Monday, April 27

FRIENDS ON THE POTOMAC: BYRON DORGAN

Politico - "I'm not in Washington, D.C., to serve President Obama or to serve any interests other than the interests of this country or the interests of this state," [Senator Byron Dorgan] said in an interview. "North Dakotans know — they know that I'm fiercely independent.". . .

Dorgan is skeptical of Obama's choice of Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner to resurrect the economy, arguing that the two men helped build the financial system that is now in shambles. . .

As Obama asks for almost $84 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Dorgan is prepared to employ his Democratic Policy Committee to hold oversight hearings to root out questionable spending and contracts the Pentagon issues for those wars.

Just days after Obama was inaugurated, Dorgan quietly created an informal working group with six other senators - Democrats Carl Levin, Tom Harkin, Dianne Feinstein, Maria Cantwell, Jim Webb and independent Bernie Sanders - to push the Senate and the administration to take a much tougher line against Wall Street.. . .

Dorgan's best shot at distancing himself from Obama may come in the battle over Wall Street. By calling for tougher rules against hedge funds and derivatives and wanting to stop institutions from becoming too big before they can fail, Dorgan may find himself on the opposite side of many powerful Democrats in Senate leadership and the White House. That position could help him with his constituents wary of the monied interests in Washington.

It's a position he found himself in a decade ago when he was one of just eight Democrats to vote against deregulating the financial industry and correctly warned of massive bailouts and impending financial collapse. If Dorgan comes out on the losing end of the fight this time, the GOP will paint him as ineffective.

Dorgan is separately pushing the Senate to establish a select committee to investigate the financial crisis and pressing Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute those who caused the financial crisis. He acknowledged that "all of us will be judged" on Washington's response to the economic crisis.

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