GOP on Finance Reform: Say It Ain't Snowe

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine CBS

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine
We've seen this script before: Hoping to win Republican support for a controversial piece of legislation, Democrats assiduously woo Maine's swing Senators - only to get stiffed at the proverbial 11th hour.

But after meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Monday afternoon, one half of the Maine option apparently is back in play.

While Susan Collins appears to be out - at least for now - Olympia  Snowe said she was optimistic that Democrats would modify their current bill to make it more palatable to moderate Republicans. She added that there wasn't "that much of a gap" between the sides.

"I encouraged [Geithner] on the issue of bipartisanship and he was optimistic on that issue. I don't think it will be impossible, but as I urged the Secretary today, it is vital we ensure that the broad strokes of a bipartisan agreement are reached prior to debate on the Senate floor. We need to address the proposed consumer protection bureau and the best way to avoid another taxpayer-funded bailout, among other things. I also shared my deep concern that we push the vast derivative trading market onto transparent exchanges and we eliminate any chance that taxpayers money will be used to support misplaced bets.

Snowe also repeated the standard Democratic line about the need to take "drastic steps to rein in reckless Wall Street practices" to prevent a repeat situation where financial institutions again wind up at the brink.

A bi-partisan charade or an expression of serious intent to cross party lines? Left wing Dems still nurse bruised feelings incurred during the health care reform battle. That's when Democrats thought they had won Snowe's support and they remain convinced she played them.  But considering Wall Street's plunging public popularity, it might be easier for Snowe to trade her vote in return for winning a compromise that Democrats can still live with.

That's assuming, of course, she can hold out against Mitch McConnell and his posse. Deja vu all over again, as the immortal Yogi Berra was reputed to have put it? We'll see.

  • Charles Cooper On Twitter»

    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.



Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.