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Lincoln Plans to Deliver Strong Derivatives Regulation

In the past few weeks, Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has become the unlikely point person on a debate on Wall Street arcana. Her committee is charged with producing the language regarding derivatives regulation for the broader financial regulation reform bill. Banks make billions in transactions fees on derivatives every year, and therefore have pushed back hard on a White House plan to put them on exchanges, improving pricing and volume transparency. It seemed that Lincoln might have waffled, but she released a letter to Politico today indicating the regulations will be strong:

A new proposal … would require sweeping changes to the $450 trillion derivatives market, including forcing big banks to spin off “swaps desks” that handle the complex financial instruments — a more aggressive approach than either the White House or other congressional committees have advocated so far, according to the Arkansas Democrat and her aides.

Lincoln’s plan is likely to burnish her standing with progressive groups inside the Democratic Party ahead of her May 18 Senate primary, where she is facing a challenger from the left. Lincoln drew fire from liberals in her party for opposing the public health insurance option in the recent health care reform bill.

Her plan is due to be unveiled as soon as the end of the week. The Senate hopes to take up financial regulation reform by the end of the month.

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