Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Benator's Buffett Bailout

You have to say this for Nebraska's Sen. Ben Nelson: He isn't a slave to appearances.

After being slapped down for the unlamented Cornhusker Kickback during the health care debate, George W. Bush's favorite Democrat is back holding financial reform hostage to a private bailout for his own favorite constituent, Warren Buffett.

W's Benator wants an exemption for existing derivatives contracts from having to meet new capital requirements to help out Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which has $63 billion of them and would have to set aside $8 billion to cover potential losses under the proposed new law.

As the only Democrat to oppose limiting filibusters on financial reform, Nelson is once again out front trying to blackmail his colleagues.

This time, it's not just Nebraska voters for whom the Benator is playing Robin Hood. In his financial disclosure statement filed last year, Nelson listed between $1 million and $6 million in Berkshire Hathaway stock, his largest investment.

The man is no hypocrite.

Update: For three days now, Nelson has blocked consideration of the bill as Democratic colleagues become impatient and abandon their usual tact in questioning his motives on the Buffett Bonanza, with critics pointing out that Berkshire Hathaway is not only his biggest personal investment but his biggest campaign contributor as well.

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