A lot to like about Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas

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It’s just a guess but I’d bet Blanche Lincoln, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, would be a tough poker player.

The reason is simple: Despite a Congressional record as clean as a hound’s tooth, Lincoln has never lost an election, never been within a country mile of scandal and rarely loses policy fights– handicappers still bet against her and, almost always, lose their bets.

The latest losers were Big Labor and Big “D” Democrats who spent $10 million in a nasty Arkansas primary fight this spring to make her a lame duck. Lincoln, the daughter of a rice and cotton farmer, gave as good as she got and beat her challenger in a June 8 run-off.

Bailout Banksters

She’ll stand for her third term as an Arkansas’ senator this November. Next up are the Bailout Banksters and the members of Congress they keep in their hip pockets. They hope to dump both Lincoln and her tough derivatives’ amendment in a financial reform bill now being pieced together by a house-senate conference committee.

They have billions of reasons to try. The in-the-dark derivative market, created and run by giant Wall Street banks, was the grenade that nearly blew up the world’s economy Oct. 2008. That unregulated, massive mess required hundreds of billions of dollars of your money to bail out the banks’ casino-like trading.

Today, despite 18 months’ of chest-beating over how they’d soon kick some serious banker backside, Congress has done nothing. Almost 97 percent of all swaps — paper bets similar to commodity futures — continue to be traded by five banks: Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.

Lincoln’s amendment doesn’t end the lucrative trading. It does, however, force it onto a “transparent” market so everyone knows who’s trading what and at what price. Also, it would give regulators an unrestricted view of it for the first time and force derivative-trading banks to do so through an arm’s-length subsidiary so the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (and you and I) aren’t left holding the banks’ empty bags again.

People power

Wall Street, as greedy as it is forgetful, thinks Lincoln’s ideas unnecessary and harmful to its credit-creation efforts. It has sent armies of lobbyists into every closet of the Capitol to find her and her allies to squash ‘em and her “716″ provisions, the page in the draft legislation where all are found.

People and power have no limits in this fight.

“Since 2009,” noted OpenSecrets.org, a Washington, D.C. non-partisan watchdog of money and influence in politics, June 3, “… the (financial services sector) has employed at least 73 former members of Congress” to gut the reform legislation.

Some these former public servants, according to OpenSecrets, now shamelessly serving themselves while weakening bank accountability, include former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Trent Lott, R-Mo., and two former House Majority Leaders, Dick Armey, R-Texas, and Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.

Conclusions

And yet, Lincoln’s reforms still stand as the house-senate conference convenes to marry each chamber’s bill into one. In fact, her primary victory two weeks ago boosts the odds that most, if not all, will be in the final bill. But it’s not because our Washington hired hands might, like blind sows, find an acorn. No, it’s because the politics of derivative reform are right: If Lincoln succeeds, she’s a champion of the little guy and enemy of Big Bad Banksters; if she loses she still fought for the little guy but the Bad, Bad Banksters beat her up.

Gee, even the dimmest bulb on Capitol Hill can do that math. Will they? This week will tell the tale but I wouldn’t bet against Blanche.

About the Author

Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com More Stories by Alan Guebert

2 Comments

  1. Bill Lee says:

    Alan,

    Please explain the following:

    - How did derivative-trading banks force bailouts in the banking industry? Last I checked, the millions of shady home loans and people living beyond their means are what really plunged us into a recession and are causing banks to close. All of the major banks paid back their funds with interest. If you are trying to target AIG, isn’t there a more specific method than hurting all derivative trading?

    - Blanche Lincoln only came up with this proposal once she realized she couldn’t win without getting her name in the paper.

    - Please name an economist or two that thinks her plan is a good idea. Assuming you can’t do that, please show one that discusses how her plan won’t hurt current bank lending and put our banks at a disadvantage versus our European competitors. You can’t. The fact is, her ideas are short-sided, and everyone realizes it, yet due to politics, it might actually go through.

    Yes, lots to like about Blanche Lincoln.

  2. ARkey says:

    “Lots to like about Blanche Lincoln. HA! Misguided you are and misguiding you wish to be! The thing I like the most about her is her present position where, I get to say BYE in November! I am TEA and she has no clue as to what that means. She has her honor and shows her constituents none. Making laws she doesn’t have to abide by and giving herself pay raises at will. That is so easy…a caveman could do it! Her and her cronies’ Reid, Pelosi and President “Hussein” Obama are operating without a budget and spending like drunk heathen. And so it is that I say, BYE…AND GOOD RIDDANCE! Lincoln is in lock step with Barack “Hussein” Obama and the “Party.” As sure as the head of her Party made the statement “information is a distraction for this country” she believes it. It’s time all of us become educated and act on behalf of the United States of America! She is out of touch with Arkansas’ true Americans. Hence, she voted for the Health Care Bill when 60+% was opposed. She is now running back to her State and touting what a wonderful representative of the States’ people she is. Running her tong so fast, she has misstated her position regarding “Hussein’s” health care bill like as if we aren’t smart enough to catch it. She is not committed to constituent service, and she is no longer rooted in their communities. Lincoln lives in Washington DC and is beholden to entrenched interests. She may think she is addressing dumb hillbilly farmers, but helloooooooo…BYE MS Blanche…and Good Riddance!

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