Financial Reform Moves Through. What Now?

And it's done: the Senate last night passed sweeping financial reform after months of debate, paving the way for the president to sign a major overhaul by July 4.

The Washington Post's Michael Shear reports that Obama wants to get the bill signed into law quickly so that Democrats can use it as an issue in November's elections, positioning themselves to capitalize on populist anger against banks. "The campaign to make that case began even before the Senate passed the bill Thursday night. In a Rose Garden statement, Obama sought to make the connection between the financial legislation and the lives of everyday Americans and businesses."

In The Wall Street Journal, conservative pundit Peter Wallison laments that Republicans allowed the bill to pass without a filibuster—and, in fact, with votes from Sens. Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Charles Grassley, and Olympia Snowe. Wallison writes, "The signature initiatives of the Obama administration were very much in the mold of the old New Deal—the heedless spending, a stimulus plan focused on government employment, a health-care program that brought one-sixth of the economy under government control, and now the financial regulatory bill that would control another sixth. It will be years before the damage can be undone."

So far, however, markets seem to be reacting calmly to the news. Although the Dow opened lower this morning, stocks have ticked upward as of this writing, led by major financial companies—those that will now be subject to regulation. "U.S. stocks rose for the first time in four days after the Senate approved financial-regulatory overhaul," the Bloomberg reported. Fellow Gaggler Daniel Gross writes this morning that the fact is, banks aren't being hit all that hard: "While there's stuff in there that the financial sector doesn't like, the legislation that is now headed to a House-Senate conference is, in fact, relatively tame."

You can also read fellow Gaggler Michael Hirsh's take here. And Annie Lowrey of The Washington Independent gives a useful preview of what still needs to be resolved in committee.