President Obama is hoping Republicans will filibuster on financial reform, according to a speech given by Newsweek's Washington correspondent Howard Fineman at the SIFMA Private Client Conference last week in New york.
Holding up a copy of Obama’s speech on regulatory reform, Fineman said, “Obama is trying to rally populist sentiment against Wall Street." By waiting for Republicans to filibuster “the Administration is taking a more active stance. Obama is trying to recapture the populist initiative and goad the Republicans.”
The public’s anti-Wall Street sentiment could undermine support for Republicans, he said, if they take too active a stance against regulatory reform.
Fineman also said that the Democratic majority in Congress would be threatened in November. “I won’t say it’s likely, but it could happen,” he said. Obama's approval rating is a fairly low 49% but that’s up since healthcare reform passed.
“Obama lost all the independent-leaning representatives with the health care bill because they thought it was too much government too soon,” Fineman said. “People are scared of healthcare, because they are going from the known to the unknown.”
He said some of Obama’s advisors, such as Rahm Emanuel, wanted him to ease more slowly into big initiatives, including healthcare and financial regulatory reform, but that’s not Obama’s style, Fineman said. “Obama is swinging for the fences all the time," he said.
He also said Presidents have become more partisan in part because emphasizing the differences between them is what raises money from supporters.
“Presidents don’t feel they need to reach out to all Americans,” he said. “It’s in the financial interests of both parties to raise the distinctions,” a trend that will get amplified in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning restrictions on campaign spending by corporations on first amendment grounds.