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Partisan bickering over financial reform hard to understand

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones makes a good analogy about the partisan battle in Congress over financial reform:

If your city were nearly destroyed by a huge earthquake, proposing better building standards would be an obvious response. It wouldn’t be a left vs. right thing, it would be a property developers vs. everyone else thing. The financial meltdown of 2008 was like that. It exposed such massive fault lines in our banking system that outrage really shouldn’t be a left vs. right thing. It should be a big banks vs. everyone else thing.

A cynical Drum wonders how the world economy can nearly blow up and prompt no serious reform in its wake.

Ezra Klein follows up with a blog post in the WaPo about Wall Street’s mission to make everything it does so complicated that even Wall Street doesn’t understand what it’s doing:

But complexity is core to the business of Wall Street. There’s a lot of money to be had over there. About 40 percent of domestic profits, in fact. And you get more of that money if no one understands what you’re doing.

At the end of the post, Klein concedes that a “significant global tax on financial transactions” would go a long way in curbing Wall Street’s reckless behavior.  But Klein, like Drum, seems to have resigned himself to the cynic’s role in musing that a Wall Street transactions tax has no chance of happening.

We’re not quite ready to throw in the towel over here, having joined a broad coalition last week that urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Congress and President Obama to swiftly enact a tax on financial speculation.

Financial reform is not a lost cause. There’s still time to tell senators to support the American Financial Stability Act of 2010 and amendments to strengthen its authority to protect consumers. You can join the fight, by signing our petition for real financial reform.