So financial reform passed, as health care passed, with exactly the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. (The filibuster must die, but that’s a debate for later.)
Every Democrat voted for it but Russ Feingold. With the W.Va. seat still vacant, that meant that Reid needed Snow, Collins, and Scott Brown, as well as Ben Nelson. Note that Feingold wasn’t voting against the bill: he was voting with the Republicans to prevent the bill from being voted on.
The bill as passed exempts at least three major sources of consumer maltreatment in the financial market: car loans, payday loans, and check-cashing services. It omits the $19B bank tax to pay for bailouts. It has a very weak form of the “Volcker rule,” thus leaving the country exposed to future meltdowns. Those concessions were the price of those last four votes.
Question: How much better a deal could Reid have gotten if he’d only needed three of those four: if Feingold had voted for cloture, even if he wound up voting against final passage? The answer is the price of Russ Feingold’s integrity narcissism. I’m sure all the poor people who keep getting cheated by payday lenders will be glad to know that the Junior Senator from Wisconsin is an independent thinker.