Blame Warren Buffett for Our Current Lack of Financial Regulation
Yesterday, the Democrats in the Senate tried to hold a vote on the new financial regulation bill. That did not happen, thanks to a filibuster supported by every single Republican... and one Democrat. Ben Nelson, attention-seeking Senator from Nebraska.
Nelson's break with his party allows Republicans to say that a bipartisan group opposed the bill, which will just make it harder to pressure them to co-operate on passing a bill. Why did Nelson do it? Well, a certain powerful Nebraska resident asked Nelson to rejigger one part of the bill to prevent him from losing money. And when the change couldn't be made, well, that was too much for Ben Nelson.
Indeed, Buffet found that a provision regulating previously agreed to derivative contracts (whose definition is still murky, but just know that they were partially responsible for the crisis) might be problematic to Berkshire Hathaway's derivative business (worth more than $60 billion dollars). And when you represent Nebraska, I imagine that when Buffet says "Jump," you say "How high?" But it's still sad to see such a blatant display of influence peddling. You have to imagine the needs of most other Nebraskans and Americans are not served by refusing to pass any bills that don't make Warren Buffet's life easier.
And, just to add to the pile of hypocrisy, Buffet is actually strongly for regulating derivatives. He's said that they are "“financial weapons of mass destruction." But only when other people use them, apparently.