It looks like Kent Conrad (D-ND), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee through which any reconciliation bill must pass, scored a nice, little, special deal for his home state as part of the student loan reform portion of the reconciliation package. From the summary of the bill:

Section 2213. Agreements with State-Owned Banks. This section amends Part D of Title IV to direct the Secretary to enter into an agreement with an eligible lender for the purpose of providing Federal loan insurance on student loans made by state-owned banks.

Guess which is the only state-owned bank in the entire country–that’s right, it is the Bank of North Dakota.

Personally, I like the idea of state-owned banks to handle the states’ own bank accounts, and make long term investments in the local economy. The Bank of North Dakota has done some good for the state, and could be a model for others. If the one provision in this bill encourages a few other states to create state-owned banks, it might not even be a bad thing. But, as it currently stands, this is clearly a special deal secured by Kent Conrad for his home state.

I said all along that Democrats just couldn’t help themselves when it came to special deals in the reconciliation package. Even though they knew special deals like this were helping to kill support for the bill, they still slipped more special deals into the reconciliation package. A reconciliation package whose main point was to “fix” all the the problematic special deals in the first bill. Sometimes it seems like Democrats never learn.

Update: Within a few hours of this posting, Sen. Conrad had his staff call the House to remove this special favor from the “fix bill.”