Wal-Mart and Best Buy squared off against JP Morgan and Citibank yesterday in the US Senate, and the retailers won this round: the Tester amendment to stop the Fed from killing ridiculously high bank charges on debit cards couldn’t withstand a filibuster. This means that instead of charging 44 cents to process a debit transaction, the banks can only charge 7-12 cents, taking a huge bite out of $20 billion in profit. Though this would seem like a no-brainer, it’s telling that a majority (54-45) voted for it, with 12 senators changing votes (including Schumer and Gillibrand) over the last year. This means that other Dodd-Frank provisions, as well as the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are going to be in play in the Senate.
Since Jon Tester led the charge for the banks, maybe it’s worth revisiting this panegyric from Kos editor McJoan a few short years ago:
Jon Tester isn’t really a new kind of Democrat, but he’s the kind of Democrat that many of us, and a majority of Montana voters, can identify with, can respect, and can trust to represent them in Congress. As an individual, I predict Tester will redefine what being a representative means. In that sense, Tester’s victory is a victory for middle-class Americans everywhere.
In a political sense, Tester’s victory means a lot more for Democratic politics, for the grassroots, and for the netroots.[…]
For the Democratic party, this is a powerful new archetype. In his demeanor, in his approach to politics, Tester is the common man, the simple citizen. As a politician, he projects these personal qualities into a message of common sense, the common good, and representation of the little guy. In that, Tester’s political approach shows us how to recapture what Americans have always liked about the Democrats, that it’s the party of the little guy. He’s a unifying figure for us, from the center to the left. Without sacrificing any of the core values that make him a Democrat–he’s pro-choice, pro-civil liberties, and believes in the essential ability of government to improve people’s lives–Tester can appeal to white, middle/working class voter that has been duped by the Republicans into thinking that they represent their concerns better.
What’s more, he negates the standard Republican attack on Democrats because he can’t be attacked for not being a real American with real American values. […] It’s not as a result of any specific position he holds, but rather the totality of the image he presents.[…]
Jon Tester isn’t necessarily a new kind of Democrat, he’s the best of what Democrats have always been.
In 4 years, Kos front-pagers went from wondering if Tester is more God than man, to saying he should be the Blanche Lincoln of 2012. As a Montana local pointed out the last time Tester did something awful, it isn’t Tester who changed. Tester’s facing Denny Rehberg, who probably thinks that getting money from banks is like receiving a benediction from the Pope or a handjob from Ronald Reagan’s ghost. Tester will pay no political price for supporting this amendment, and he’ll probably gain a bunch of campaign contributions. That’s just the political environment we live in, where the choices are usually between mediocre and awful.