Morning Bunker Report: Monday 5.14.2012


MAN OF GOD: It seems that some people would rather not extend the statute of limitations for the crime of sexually abusing children. What kind of monster — no, wait… Cardinal Timothy Dolan has made defeating statute of limitations reform one of his top legislative priorities. This is the guy, remember, who made such a loud fuss about contraception that the president had to cut a compromise deal that caused Dolan and the rest of the clerical errors to make an even louder fuss. And who, most recently, opened his well-stuffed piehole on the subject of the president’s support for marriage equality: “We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.” — Charles P. Pierce

Mitt Romney’s mantra: Avoid John McCain’s mistakes (PALIN!) — Many of the current strategy discussions are centered on not falling into the traps McCain did: looking wobbly as a leader and weak on the economy in the final weeks of the campaign. The private discussions include ruling out any vice presidential possibilities who could be seen as even remotely risky or unprepared; wrapping the entire campaign around economic issues, knowing this topic alone will swing undecided voters in the final days; and, slowly but steadily, building up Romney as a safe and competent alternative to President Barack Obama. McCain, according to Romney advisers, blew it on all three scores. And of the three, the most conscious effort by Romney’s team to do things differently will be in the V.P. selection process. One Republican official familiar with the campaign’s thinking said it will be designed to produce a pick who is safe and, by design, unexciting – a deliberate anti-Palin. The prized pick, said this official: an “incredibly boring white guy.” — POLITICO

Dimon On Whether JP Morgan’s $2 Billion Loss Proves Banks Are Still Too Risky: ‘I Don’t Think So’ — [JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie] Dimon has been one of the biggest critics of the Volcker Rule, which is meant to prevent banks from making massive bets with federally insured dollars. [...] Of course, the point isn’t whether JP Morgan, the biggest bank in the U.S., can survive a trade like this. It’s whether the financial system can sustain this sort of trading by all of the big banks, many of which are not in the same financial shape as JP Morgan. As the New York Times detailed yesterday, JP Morgan and the rest of the nation’s biggest banks have been fighting to widen exemptions to the Volcker Rule that would allow banks to continue making risky trades of this sort. ”I hope that the final [Volcker] rule will prevent this,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), whose name graces the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, on ABC today. “The Volcker Rule is still being formulated.” — Think Progress

  • RNC Chief: Leave Wall Street alone — Host David Gregory asked a straightforward question: “In light of the losses on Wall Street this week, you think we need less financial regulation rather than more?” In Preibus’ mind, it’s not even a close call: “I think we need less.” The RNC chief added that Democrats have “made things worse” by approving new safeguards and adding new layers of accountability to the financial system. It reminded me of an Upton Sinclair line: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Steve Benen
  • Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren called for JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to resign his position as a director at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In a statement posted on her website, Warren said Dimon stepping down would “send a signal to the American people that Wall Street bankers get it and to show that they understand the need for responsibility and accountability.” — The Hill
  • JPMorgan Chase has been lobbying to make exactly the kind of trades that just lost the company billions of dollars. — Edward Wyatt in The New York Times
  • JPMorgan Chase’s loss proves the need for bank regulation. — Paul Krugman in The New York Times
  • More from Ezra Klein
  • How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform — The fate of Dodd-Frank over the past two years is an object lesson in the government’s inability to institute even the simplest and most obvious reforms, especially if those reforms happen to clash with powerful financial interests. From the moment it was signed into law, lobbyists and lawyers have fought regulators over every line in the rulemaking process. Congressmen and presidents may be able to get a law passed once in a while – but they can no longer make sure it stays passed. You win the modern financial-regulation game by filing the most motions, attending the most hearings, giving the most money to the most politicians and, above all, by keeping at it, day after day, year after fiscal year, until stealing is legal again. “It’s like a scorched-earth policy,” says Michael Greenberger, a former regulator who was heavily involved with the drafting of Dodd-Frank. “It requires constant combat. And it never, ever ends.” That the banks have just about succeeded in strangling Dodd-Frank is probably not news to most Americans – it’s how they succeeded that’s the scary part. —  Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————

The coming issue of Newsweek: Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama’s Gay Marriage Evolution — The president’s bold support shifted the mainstream. Andrew Sullivan on why it shouldn’t be surprising—Obama’s life as a biracial man has deep ties to the gay experience. [...] To have the president of the United States affirm my humanity—and the humanity of all gay Americans—was, unexpectedly, a watershed. He shifted the mainstream in one interview. And last week, a range of Democratic leaders—from Harry Reid to Steny Hoyer—backed the president, who moved an entire party behind a position that only a few years ago was regarded as simply preposterous. And in response, Mitt Romney could only stutter.

A new two-minute Obama commercial stars steelworkers somberly dismantling Mitt Romney’s record as a job creator at Bain Capital. “I know how business works. I know why jobs come and why they go,” says Romney in the clip. But the veterans of Kansas City’s GST Steel tell a different story of the Bain takeover, which occurred in 1993 and resulted in about 750 people out of work: “They made as much money off of it as they could. And they closed it down,” laments Joe Soptic, a steelworker for three decades. “It was like a vampire,” says another. “They came in and sucked the life out of us.” The extra-long spot has an extended version online at, and both are packed with soundbites. “It was like watching an old friend bleed to death,” adds one worker. “Bain Capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off this plant. We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer.” — Steelworkers Slam Mitt Romney and Bain Capital in Harsh New Obama Ad — Daily Intel

Why the ’80/20 rule’ matters — Over the summer, 16 million Americans are going to get some nice checks in the mail from their insurance company, due entirely to the fact that the much-derided health care law is looking out for consumers, not insurers. As the segment explained, folks like getting unexpected money in the mail. When they realize it’s because of Obamacare, maybe the law will start to look a little better in those consumers’ eyes. That checks will hit mailboxes a few months before the election probably doesn’t hurt Obama’s potential benefit, either. It’s also worth keeping in mind these rebate checks will disappear if/when Republicans kill the entirety of the law, replacing it with nothing: “Some House and Senate Republicans are now admitting what’s been obvious from the start: that the Republican vow to ‘repeal and replace’ Obama’s health law has always been a bait-and-switch.” — Steve Benen

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