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Chris Dodd on the Dems' Rough Year

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on financial reform legislation on April 28, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Getty)

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On today's Brian Lehrer Show, outgoing Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd reflected on the Democrats’ hard-fought (and still unpopular) accomplishments of the past year.

Chris Dodd is Connecticut’s longest-serving senator, and 2010 is his 30th year in office. It will also be his last. Back in January, Dodd announced that he would seek retirement rather than re-election this November.

He’s gone out with a bang – two bangs, to be exact. This year, after helping to pass the controversial healthcare overhaul bill, Dodd had his name at the top of another divisive piece of legislation: The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Unpopular as those bills have been, Dodd defends them as necessary steps in the right direction. He said that healthcare reform, which was the more divisive issue of the two, needed to happen.

This is an issue screaming for some answers…Every administration, one way or another, has tried to do something abut this issue. So it’s been a bipartisan concern, legitimately so, to try and come up with some answers to this. I’ll be the first to admit that we have a long way to go and you’re going to dial this thing different directions before you get done with it, but it is the beginning that we had to make. Someone had to step up and get this done.

The Democrats got it done, but the political cost to themselves and President Obama has the potential to be great. Dodd said it’s a price worth paying, and that it’s worse to be known as a “do-nothing” Congress – a hand that Republicans may have been trying to force.

They never offered an alternative…There was strictly opposition. What you’d normally have is a substitute bill that says, “We think we ought to reform the system, but here’s our substitute idea.” There never was one.

Ironically, Dodd said that the Democrats’ exact 60-seat majority, which was supposed to give them a blank check for legislation, may have been their undoing.

One of the problems we have is that 60-40 breakdown is the worst two numbers you could have.  In the 40. the Republicans had to stick together and couldn’t lose a single vote in order to try and hold the line. Democrats needed all 60 to get anything done.  Had there been 55-45 or 65-35, I think we might not have ended up in quite the situation we did on so many pieces of legislation.

Despite the difficulties and the backlash, Dodd remained resolute about the need for recent reform legislation. Citing President Truman’s Marshall Plan and the Voting and Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s as examples – both widely unpopular in their own time, now recognized as significant achievements – Dodd said that these new bills will prove equally essential in the long run.

Time and time again, historically, doing the right thing was not always the popular thing to do. I happen to believe that regarding healthcare and financial reform, we did the right thing in both cases, and history will record that.


Hear the whole segment on The Brian Lehrer Show on Wednesday.

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Comments [9]

mick from Hamden CT

If those of you in the media would explain a little about the healthcare legislation instead of piling on and saying "it's unpopular", maybe people would realize that it is a step in the right direction to catching us up to the rest of the civilized world in terms of providing basic human compassion and care for all of our citizens. The GOP, for all their heartlessness, has adopted some of the provisions of the bill in their so-called "pledge", but of course, none of the specifics on how to pay for it. The GOP had their turn and brought us to the brink of a total financial meltdown. Now you say we shouldn't regulate Wall Street? I think there is still time for people to wake up and realize that the Democrats may not be perfect, but they've got the interests of the people at the forefront of their efforts, not just preservation of wealth for the very rich.

Oct. 13 2010 05:08 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

Brian, The word foreclosure strikes terror in my heart and soul. It is almost 5 years and I feel deeply the loss of my home in Atlanta, GA. It is as if it had happened yesterday. I don’t know what exactly happened with Novastar, my lender, when my condo was foreclosed. I was out of the country then. Even now, I’d like to know if the papers were correctly prepared. The loss of my home is too great for me not to know.
I think the government should investigate all the lenders and not just some. It is time consuming, but if some did a sloppy job, it could be that some of the others did the same thing. Eugenia Renskoff

Oct. 13 2010 03:15 PM

hjs11211: please ask, why should blue states keep sending federal dollars to red states to support their week economies when they don't appreciate our aid?

Because it's We the People. Not: Just Some of Us. Government has to serve everyone whether or not they deserve it. A message we seem determined to ignore. And we continue to do so at our peril.

Oct. 13 2010 12:22 PM

g.e.Taylor
i don't mind if my tax dollar stay in my state, because you're right ,"it will serve the social good, " but i'm not helped by aid to plains states.

Oct. 13 2010 11:56 AM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

@hjs11211:

". . . why should blue states keep sending federal dollars to red states . . . "

For the same reason that your tax dollars go for the benefit of upper Manhattan youth gangs who prey on stigmatized vistims. Someone has decided that it will serve the "social good".

In for a penny; in for a pound.

Oct. 13 2010 10:57 AM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

I'm not surprised that Mr. Dodd appeared by pre-recorded tape.
What better way to avoid accountability for the legislation that granted AIG executives the muti-million dollar bonuses that they "glommed" (with Mr. Geitner's and Dodd's blessings) by virtue of the Treasury and Federal Reserve bailouts.
That opening scene of the Obama Administration set the tone for the entire "drama" so far.

Time for a cup of tea.

Oct. 13 2010 10:48 AM
Robert from NYC

Dobbs is full of it! Ask him where he plans to go when he leaves the Senate. That will explain lots, including the loopholes in his and Frank's bill.

Oct. 13 2010 10:23 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Still kind of a leap of faith on the Senator's part to think that the GOP will want to work with Democrats after the election. In their minds', the strategy of No No No to every Democratic proposal was rewarded.
Why wouldn't they keep that up. The GOP doesn't care about the nation, they just care about being elected.

Oct. 13 2010 10:18 AM

please ask, why should blue states keep sending federal dollars to red states to support their week economies when they don't appreciate our aid?

Oct. 13 2010 09:04 AM

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