Having failed to stop Elizabeth Warren from reaching the US Senate, Wall Street interests are now clearly trying to push her away from the committee assignment where she would have the greatest oversight capability over them.
Politico’s Morning Money, which is basically just a giant quote laundering program for lobbyists and operatives, has this item today:
MORE ELIZABETH WARREN SPECULATION: FINANCE COMMITTEE? – From a top Hill watcher: “Finance may be a better fit. The banks all have tax issues that are at least as important as regulations, and that’s a better committee in terms of fundraising … and she’ll be in big demand as a Dem fundraiser the next two years. Plus … putting her on Finance would allow Schumer to tell the banks that he did something for them.”
It’s amusing that this “Hill watcher,” who could be anyone with a K Street address, simultaneously makes and undermines his case at the same time. He starts by saying how the Finance Committee holds important jurisdiction over bank-related issues too, then says it’s a good fundraising committee. But he adds that Warren will be “in big demand” as a Democratic fundraiser, which means that she doesn’t NEED a committee assignment to help her with fundraising, which blew the doors off Scott Brown in Massachusetts. And then he says that Schumer could slot Warren on Finance as a gift to the banks, which undermines the entire idea that Finance offers strong oversight and policymaking relative to Wall Street.
The Senate Finance Committee is incredibly important. It handles all tax issues and about half of the spending issues. The committee is a critical path on the way to the fiscal slope.
But come on. It was called Dodd-Frank, not Baucus-Frank. The critical questions on bank regulation, one of the core competencies for Warren, occur in the Banking Committee and nowhere else. Sure, Dodd-Frank has passed and implementation is underway and there’s not likely to be much appetite for further reform in the near term. But you never know when the next crisis will strike, and it’s critical that both individuals and ideas are in place to deal with that when it does. And Warren on the Banking Committee is just a no-brainer for that. I’d also expect her to get a Judiciary Committee slot. It would shock me if she didn’t already discuss this with Harry Reid months ago.
But this is instructive in showing how Politico’s rumor factory works. Some lobbyist wants Warren off of Wall Street’s back. So he places an item in Morning Money to try to get everyone comfortable with Warren on Finance, and signs it “Hill watcher,” which means everything and nothing. So much of modern journalism is just dressed-up PR and water cooler talk. This is a perfect example.
Photo by WBUR, used under Creative Commons license.