James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Mass. U.S. Senate showdown: Brown vs. Coakley (Live Blogging)

Jan 20, 2010 00:09 UTC

Live blogging the Massachusetts US Senate race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown:

9:30  Scott Brown wins, Martha Coakley loses. Also losing: Wall Street as POTUS, Dems will ramp up attacks. I’m done for tonight.

9:24 Brown has accepted concession call from Coakley (per Fox)

9:22 AP calls is for Brown

9:20 Boston Globe says Coakley calls Brown to concede

9: 18 70 percent of vote in, Brown +7

9:13 All eyes on Boston returns where Coakley seems to be strengthening

9:09 If margin of Brown lead holds up, I can’t see him not being seated ASAP

9:04 60 percent in in, Brown +7

9:02 Coakley get not getting the Boston vote she needs.

9:00 I have yet to hear from or talk to a single political analyst at this point who thinks the race is still in doubt. Brown +5 with 52 percent in.

8:58 45 percent in Brown +5

8:47 Wasserman at Cook Report: Cook Report does NOT officially call races, but if I were working for a network I would have enough #s to project: Brown Wins

8:42 Brown +7 with 21 percent percent in.

8:35 Dave Wasserman of Cook Report: Brown needed 59% in Danvers, he got 63%. Brown consistently overperforming our model by 3-4 % pts

8:32 With 11 percent in, 53-46 Brown

8:26 Brown seems to be overperforming in key counties

8:23 With 4 percent in, 52-47 Brown

8:10 Preliminary election day poll from Rasmussen:

  • Among those who decided how they would vote in the past few days, Coakley has a slight edge, 47% to 41%.
  • Coakley also has a big advantage among those who made up their mind more than a month ago.
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) of voters for Brown said they were voting for him rather than against Coakley.
  • Sixty-six percent (66%) of Coakley voters said they were voting for her rather than against Brown.
  • 22% of Democrats voted for Brown. That is generally consistent with pre-election polling.

8:07 Politico: Sr. Dem on Boston ‘High turnout in more conservative wards. Not high enough in Af-Am, Latino and more progressive wards.’

8:03 Brown source: Cautiously confident

7:51 Dem meme for the night is that Coakley was a lousy candidate in a bad environment; any other major Mass. Dem would have won by double-digits

7:44 TheHyperFix: From a Dem operative in Mass. : “Boston turnout numbers not good for Coakley.”

7: 40 On MSNBC: Pat Buchanan  says Brown victory means GOPers should run as populist, Tea Party in 2010

7:34 Pundit Review: Very upbeat atmosphere here at Brown HQ.

7:30 Chris Matthews: Could be a “sad night, a tragic night” for those who want healthcare.

7:20 Polls in MA close in 40 minutes

7:17 WSJ poll finds only 35 percent approval of Obama agenda, though his personal approval ratings are above 50 percent.

7:09 Intrade betting market puts Brown at 80 percent and steady. Waiting for hard numbers.

7:02 MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says Brown election would be “deliberate, pre-meditated” murder of healthcare reform


Pelosi and Reid tried to use Ted Kennedy. Ted wanted Health care for every one, but not the way the democrats were applying it. Mass. has told Obama what our great country is about.It isn`t over yet untill Pelosi, Reid, and all the bribed congress are removed also.If the whole U.S. congress does not begin to work together for us soon,we will have to fire a lot of them on both sides.

Posted by gaetano | Report as abusive

My chat on financial reform with Nicole Gelinas, part two

Jan 19, 2010 19:58 UTC

This is the second edition of my chat with the fabulous Nicole Gelinas, author of the phenomenal must-read, must-own After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street and Washington.  (Part one is here.)

What was a reasonable alternative to TARP?

We were never going to escape this debacle without pumping massive amounts of taxpayer money into the financial system. By 2008, the erosion of market discipline and prudent regulations (which go together) had left the economy vulnerable to a historic financial disaster. The proverbial black swan would have been if we not gotten the crisis.

Washington could have deployed TARP funds better than it did, though. Bush-era Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s first mistake was in thinking that he could use TARP finds to hide financial-industry losses. That is, he wanted TARP to buy up bad securities from banks at higher-than-market prices. As the S&L crisis proved nearly two decades ago, the economy can’t recover until bad assets find their real market price. Yet more government distortion just delayed that process.

What Paulson and, later, Geithner eventually did was better: pumping capital into banks so that they could withstand at least some of their losses on mortgage-related securities and other investments. Still, though, Washington used TARP to shield bondholders to the TARP banks from their losses – meaning that “too big to fail” lives another day.
How would a conservatorship of a TBTF firm work?

No firm should be “too big to fail – so it really would be a conservatorship for failed financial firms.

We learned in the Great Depression that some firms cannot fail through the normal bankruptcy process. Bank failures caused unacceptable economic panic and social harm. The FDIC was the elegant solution. It protected small depositors from losses and from service interruption, muting financial panic in a crisis. But it also allowed markets to discipline bad banks, because uninsured lenders still took their losses.

The task of a conservatorship for failed financial firms should be the same: to enforce market discipline of failed financial firms in an orderly manner – with creditors taking their losses – while protecting the economy from the disordered panic that we saw after Lehman.

A conservatorship could carry on operations at a failed financial firm, just as the FDIC does with failed banks when it cannot find a buyer. But lawmakers must make clear that the conservator’s goal is liquidation: to spin off good assets into more competent hands, with creditors responsible for any shortfall, just as they are in bankruptcy.

With AIG, the government has never made clear whether it’s trying to save AIG or wind it down. So we have the bizarre situation of AIG executives saying that the company stock is worthless even as it trades on public markets in the double digits. Meanwhile, private-sector insurance companies must compete against a government-guaranteed behemoth.

A conservatorship won’t work, though, unless lawmakers and regulators enact other rules to make the economy better able to withstand financial-industry failure. I talked about some of this in my answers to your other questions. The main goal is to insulate the economy somewhat from the natural excesses of financial-industry optimism and pessimism, without micromanaging finance. Borrowing limits mute optimism, because they prevent investors from bidding assets up with no money down (think housing in 2005, stocks in 1928).

Other regulations can mute pessimism. When the old uptick rule governed “short sales,” stock sellers couldn’t sell a stock down to zero. Pushing financial instruments onto exchanges, too, can mute panic — again, look at AIG.


She is blowing smoke and missing the lesson.

How about a Constitutional amendment that bans all future bailouts of people, entities, corporations, municipalities, and U.S. states?

No other measure would impose the kind of discipline that is required.

Posted by Austrian School | Report as abusive

Brown vs. Coakley: The Bay State Brawl!

Jan 19, 2010 18:33 UTC

A few thoughts and observation about  the US Senate race Massachusetts:

1) No exit polls, so we’ll have to wait for the actual vote count as well as turnout in key counties.

2)  Intrade betting market has Scott Brown at 78 percent, up 10 points in the past hour or so.

3) Reporters keep looking for a Coakley surge but have had a tough time finding one .

4) Even a narrow Coakley win will leave lots of Washington Dems wondering if they should retire in what looks like a strong Republican year.

5)  Either way, expect Dems to do a lot more Wall Street bashing since they think the issue stuck to Rs during the race.

More to come …