The final Washington push on financial reform is showing that failure can't be ruled out. The White House is ready to go ahead with no support from Republicans — who are daring to try. And some on both sides believe no bill could be good politics. Further compromises are needed to avoid gridlock.

Reaching agreement on financial regulation was supposed to be easier — and certainly less ideological and more technocratic — than reforming healthcare. And there was a consensus that the financial crisis demanded change. But financial reform took a back seat to healthcare for longer than expected. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans alike began sensing that the GOP might be able to recapture one or both houses of Congress in November's midterm elections.

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