Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Collins Backs Killing DADT

Two decades into the national discussion about homosexuality and the military, Sen. Collins has decided to back allowing gays to serve openly.

Kudos to the junior senator for the about-face. And for breaking with her allies on the far right. I'm sure her old friend Rick Santorum won't be too thrilled.

But let's not pretend this makes Collins some sort of trailblazer for justice. It doesn't.

There was a time when this sort of stand would have really helped shake things up. But that time is long gone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wall Street Reform Round Up

Sen. Collins reportedly won't try to block and up or down vote on the financial reform bill.

In related news, Reuters has picked up the story about the junior senator's sneaky carve out amendment to protect the mutual fund industry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So Long, Arlen

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Meme Spreads

Lately, here and there, people seem to be catching onto the idea that--just maybe--Sen. Susan Collins isn't who she says she is:

I praised Maine Senator Susan Collins for wanting to extend [a fiduciary] duty to brokers who sell to institutions such as pension funds and mutual funds.

Wow, did I ever speak too soon. Last week, Collins declared herself in favor of gutting these protections for retail investors like you and me.

In brief, a fiduciary duty requires that brokers put their customers' interests ahead of their own. At present, they're allowed to put their own interests first--for example, by selling you something with a higher commission when a product with a lower commission might perform even better.


Last week, devious brokers found their champion. Collins proposed an amendment to the reform bill, to exempt from fiduciary duty brokers who sell only mutual funds, variable annuities, and certain closed-end funds. Furthermore, the Securities and Exchange Commission could expand the exemption to brokers selling other products packaged by their firms.

Folks, those are exactly the products that brokers are paid the most to sell and that carry the highest fees. In-house mutual funds cost more, and perform more poorly, then comparable lower-fee funds. The complications of closed-end funds makes them a source of abusive sales. Variable annuities are so laden with fees that it’s a miracle if customers come out even.

Collins wants to remove a broker's duty of care in the areas where it's needed most.
For a long stretch, Collins "opposed" President Bush's strategy in Iraq--but wouldn't lift a finger to do anything about it.

She called candidate Obama's health care plan "pretty good" during the campaign--and then did everything in her power to prevent a less progressive version of it from being enacted.

She complains about the deficit but votes for trillions in Republican-sponsored spending without offsets. And despite her occasionally encouraging environmental rhetoric, she continues to oppose the main climate change proposal pending in the Senate.

If you've been following Collins, it's pretty obvious what's going on here.

But it's nice to see that even casual observers of the junior senator are starting to connect the dots.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Strengthening standards? Or watering them down?

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, late Thursday introduced an amendment to the financial reform legislation being debated on the Senate floor that would extend a fiduciary standard to broker-dealers, but excludes people selling variable annuities.

The North American Securities Administrators Association and the Consumer Federation of American condemned the amendment because of the exclusion.

"This amendment removes the fiduciary duty precisely where it is needed most--where the conflicts of interest are greatest, the investors are least sophisticated, and the sales practices are most abusive. It paints a target on the backs of senior Americans who are most likely to be targeted with abusive variable annuity sales practices," said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection, Consumer Federation of America.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Gail Collins:

“Let me emphasize that none of us wants a terrorist to be able to purchase a gun,” said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who nevertheless went on to argue against allowing the government to use the terrorist watch list to keep anyone from being able to purchase, um, a gun.