What do Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond have in common? They were both part of the 61 member majority in the Senate that voted down the SAFE Banking Act (S.AMDT.3733).  This proposed amendment to Senator Dodd’s financial regulatory legislation (S. 3217) was intended to guarantee that there would be no more too-big-to-fail bank catastrophes in our future – a good thing, right?  

According to the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), a consortium of 250 organizations concerned with financial regulatory reform, the Safe Banking Act would have imposed size limits that would have given:

… the largest banks three years to transform themselves into leaner, more sustainable institutions – while maximizing shareholder value and without sacrificing any of the economies of scale. Importantly, a hard cap will also prevent new financial services firms from growing too large in the future.

Michael Tomasky notes that this amendment “was considered by liberal activists and economists to be the element that would add real teeth”  to Dodd’s reform package.

I will be very interested to learn just why McCasKill joined with 27 Senate Democrats and all but three Republicans to defeat this legislation. Wasn’t it Claire “Carry Nation” McCaskill who postured for the cameras just a week or so ago, waving a metaphorical hatchet at the malefactors who head up the too-big-to-fail Goldmann Sachs?  If the financiers’ bad behavior gets her so riled up, why did she vote against making it just that much more difficult for these greedy clowns and the rest of their wall street pals to make our economy go crash again?  How can she scold the big bankers and financiers and then turn around and help them to a great big victory?

Maybe McCaskill had good reasons – but I want to hear something other than hemming, hawing and the usual temporizing before I am convinced. Until then, I am afraid that Tomasky might be correct about what the behavior of timid centrists like McCaskill means:

This vote should demonstrate to liberals that the conditions for rapid change just don’t exist in this country and that part of the task is to create those conditions