Huffpost Business
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jonathan Tasini Headshot

Melissa Bean, Corporate Voice, Instead of Elizabeth Warren? No Way.

Posted: Updated:

War is peace. Lies are truth. And, now, Melissa Bean is like Elizabeth Warren. That is the instant thought I had when reading about the rumors that the White House might consider appointing Melissa Bean to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if she ends up on the short end of the vote count in her House race in Illinois. This is absurd -- and it goes far beyond her relationship with the financial industry.

Melissa Bean has been a voice for corporate America from the first day she took office. Most of the small bits of information I've been sent so far focus on her close ties with the Chamber of Commerce around the financial reform bill:

Bean, a member of the House financial services and small business committees, has a long history as a favorite of Wall Street. Her top donors hail from the finance, insurance, and real estate industries, which together have poured $2.5 million into her campaign coffers over her five-year career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2008 elections, Bean bagged more money from the Chamber of Commerce, which vehemently opposed the Dodd-Frank bill, than any other House incumbent. And among the top contributors to her 2010 reelection campaign were JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Allstate Insurance, all of which sought to weaken aspects of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau...

Bean, though, offered a provision backed by big banks and the Chamber of Commerce that would've exempted national banks from those tougher state laws, in effect neutering the states' new oversight powers. Bean was also one of six Democrats to oppose taxing bonuses at government-owned AIG, and she opposed auditing the Federal Reserve. "We're very connected to the business community and very much appreciate the importance of their success to our overall economic recovery," Bean said in March 2009. "We are trying to champion their issues and concerns."

But, it goes deeper. Bean was one of only 15 Democrats to vote for the Central American Free Trade Agreement -- which passed by just TWO votes in the House. Even many of the reviled "Blue Dogs" voted against the bill. If just one Democrat of the 15 had voted NO, the bill would failed on a tie vote -- and millions of people throughout Central America would have been spared the ugliness of CAFTA. Among Bean's little group, by the way, was former Rep. William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson -- you may remember him... in one of the dumber moves in political corruption history, the guy stashed $90,000 in bribery money in his freezer -- and was convicted in August 2009.

While what the irresponsible people on Wall Street and the financial industry did leading up to 2008 devastated the lives of millions of people and sent our economic system into a nose dive, I believe opposition to Bean must be broader.

Even before the economic crisis of 2008, a broader economic crisis has taken hold of our country for the past 30 years. What was Wall Street's role in the "good 'ole days" pre Angelo Mozilo-led mortgage-scam? Finance corporate takeover and leveraged buy-outs that were based, almost always, on slashing good-paying jobs to pay off the mountain of debt companies took on. Millions of Americans lost their jobs because of that strategy.

And so-called "free trade" was a critical part of the game plan. Once jobs were cut here, if global corporations were to be come "lean and mean" and "competitive" around the planet, they needed an environment where wage and regulation arbitrage were in place. That is, where they could find "hospitable" investment locations -- meaning, places where wages could be driven down and regulations undone that protected labor, environment or CONSUMER rights.

So, Bean's record on being a corporate voice is far deeper than just the recent financial reform bill. Having her oversee consumer protection would be as bizarre and Orwellian and unimaginable as having Robert Rubin, former vice-chair of Citibank who advocated aggressively using debt to finance growth only to see his company plunge into an economic tailspin for which he took no responsibility, advising our government on economic strategy...errr...ok, so, that may not be the best example.

Here is one thought, based on 100 percent idle speculation with no evidence: what is Rahm Emanuel's hand in this? Is this part of his attempt to nail down both contributors and a slice of the political vote in Chicago for his mayoral campaign?