Bad news for Wall Street. A Senator Tim Johnson announces his retirement the Senate Banking Committee Chairmanship may fall to one of Wall Street’s biggest enemies, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), who has led the Banking Committee since 2011, will announce Tuesday he does not plan to seek reelection, according to multiple industry sources.
The seat, in red-state South Dakota, will be difficult for Democrats to defend, but it also could set off a scramble to for the coveted chairmanship of the Banking panel.
Depending on how that plays out, it’s possible that noted bank-basher Brown could take over the chairman’s gavel. One industry source said it was “very likely” Brown would take control of the committee in 2014 if Democrats retain control of the chamber.
Wall Street spent millions against Brown in Ohio helping make it one of the most expensive races of 2012, which isn’t a surprise given that Brown campaigned on breaking up the Too Big To Fail/Jail banks and ending tax loopholes for hedge fund managers. Perhaps some of Wall Street’s DC lobbyists told their masters that Brown could one day be chairman and a Brown run committee was a nightmare.
A panel led by Brown would take a strikingly different tone than the one helmed by Johnson.
Johnson was subject to some grumbling by consumer advocates, who noted his previous support of industry interests, when he first took control of the committee. As chairman, Johnson took a deliberate approach in leading the committee, emphasizing the need for bipartisan agreement when it came to advancing legislation.
That is longhand for Wall Street puppet which Johnson surely was through and through. Of course, this typical for Congress. Most committee chairs are pawns of the industries they in theory should be providing “oversight” on. Who could forget House Finance Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus declaring that “Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks”?
But a Chairman Brown could throw the status quo into disarray. Wall Street already went for the kill and failed. He has no reason to fear them or give them the undeserved deference that previous chairmen have shown the banking lobby – the kind comes from being bought. Brown might actually – gulp – hold Wall Street accountable. And when fraud is your business model accountability is ruinous.