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First thoughts: Wrapping up Wall Street reform

Negotiators wrap up work on Wall Street reform, giving Obama and Democrats another potential victory… You can’t say this is a Do-Nothing Congress (though Republicans would argue it’s a Do-Too Much Congress)… Reform deal also is a feather in Obama’s cap as he heads to the G-8/G-20 in Canada… He was expected to make a statement about last night’s agreement before departing to Toronto… Remember Elena Kagan?... Rory who?... And Branstad picks his running mate.

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Wrapping up Wall Street reform: Over the last few weeks, the work to reconcile the already-passed House and Senate financial reform bills has taken a back seat in the news to the Gulf oil spill, the midterm primaries, and the now the war in Afghanistan. But early this morning, negotiators finished their work, and Congress is expected to vote on the product next week -- with President Obama set to sign it into law before July 4. The Wall Street Journal writes: “The bill is expected to have enough support to become law. Both chambers plan to vote next week. The margin in the House and Senate will likely be close because most Republicans are expected to oppose the measure.” (The details of what’s in the legislation can be found in our “Congress” section.)

*** Hardly a Do-Nothing Congress: The agreement -- and the likelihood that Obama will sign it into law -- is yet another reminder about how much the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress have done in the past year and a half (stimulus, health care, Wall Street reform, perhaps energy). You can’t say this is a Do-Nothing Congress; Then again, Republicans would argue it’s a Do-Too-Much Congress. It will be interesting to see how many Republicans end up voting for the final financial reform bill. While our NBC/WSJ poll showed the public’s concern about the government doing too much (49% say the government is doing too many things, versus 47% who think it should be doing more), it also favors more regulation of Wall Street, the oil industry, and big business. Per the poll, 65% want more regulation of the oil industry, 57% want more regulation of Wall Street firms, and 53% want more regulation of big corporations. As a result, we wouldn't be surprised to see more than just the three or four Senate Republicans we're used to voting for the final bill.

*** Oh, Canada: Last night’s Wall Street reform agreement also is a feather in Obama’s cap as he heads today to Canada for the G-8/G-20 summit, and he made remarks on the deal this morning before departing to Toronto. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner released a statement saying that the agreement would provide momentum for global financial reform. “The progress made over the past two weeks is enormously important for the country and provides crucial momentum for global financial reform,” he said. “As the President travels to Toronto to attend the G-20 Summit, Congress has shown that America is ready to lead by example.” Obama arrives in Toronto at 10:30 am ET, attends a working lunch at 12:15 pm, takes a photo with the G-8 leaders and their families at 2:00 pm, and attends a working dinner beginning at 7:45 pm.

*** Remember Elena Kagan? Wall Street reform isn’t the only story that’s been overshadowed in the past few weeks by other news events. The other is Elena Kagan, whose confirmation hearings to serve on the Supreme Court begin on Monday. In our new NBC/WSJ poll, 29% said they supported her, 23% said they opposed her, and a whopping 47% said they don’t know enough about her. Translation: While Kagan is still expected to be confirmed -- due to the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, and Kagan’s successful one-on-one meetings with key senators -- next week’s hearings are going to be important because there has been so little attention on her so far. So a danger for Kagan and the White House is that if something negative happens at the hearings, that could end up defining her. By the way, Kagan's hearings themselves could be overshadowed next week by the Petraeus confirmation hearings.

*** Unemployment benefits extension blocked: Of course, Democrats are hoping that Kagan’s nomination fares better in the Senate than the legislation extending unemployment benefits. Writes the New York Times: “Legislation to extend unemployment subsidies for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits teetered on the edge of collapse on Thursday, as Senate Democrats and Republicans traded bitter accusations about who was to blame for an eight-week impasse. Senate Republicans and a lone Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined forces to filibuster the bill in a procedural vote on Thursday. Visibly frustrated, the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would move on to other business next week because he saw little chance of winning over any Republican votes.”

*** Rory who? Rory Reid may be the son of the Senate majority leader, but you wouldn’t know it from “Rory’s” kick off campaign ad in his bid for Nevada governor.

*** More midterm news: In Iowa, GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad picked conservative state Sen. Kim Reynolds as his running mate… In New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte (R) has a TV ad that fires back at Paul Hodes (D), Politico says… And in Ohio, a spokesman to GOP gubernatorial nominee John Kasich “is apologizing for comments that seemed to mock … rival Ted Strickland for growing up in poverty,” the AP reports. “Nichols on Tuesday accused Strickland of ignoring Ohio's cities because Strickland had ‘grown up in a chicken shack’ in the state's Appalachia region.

Countdown to AL run-off: 18 days
Countdown to GA primary: 25 days
Countdown to OK primary: 32 days
Countdown to KS and MO primaries: 39 days
Countdown to CO and CT primaries: 46 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 130 days

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