There was an absurdly apologetic pro-Scott Brown piece in the Boston Globe suggesting that Scott Brown isn't Wall Street's favorite Senator, so critics like Elizabeth Warren should just back off in criticizing him. Having watched Brown operate on the financial reform bill and on financial issues since, it is in fact clear that he is their number one go-to guy and their best buddy on Capitol Hill. Because of Scott Brown, the financial reform bill is far weaker in policing the big banks than it could have been.
Brown is now trying to convince the media and the public that this is not the case, using the argument that he has sometimes voted against them, such as on passage of the financial reform bill in 2010. In fact, Brown was looking over his shoulder at the possibility that fearless consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren might end up running against him. Politically, in order to have a chance against her, he had to vote for the financial reform bill, but before he did, he forced exemptions for the major banks in the incredibly important Volcker Rule that was intended to force big banks to spin off their speculative trading operations that helped bring down the economy in 2008. The loopholes Brown forced into the bill were the very things that weakened the financial reform package the most, and they are the key reasons the biggest banks can continue in their dangerous speculation just like they did before the financial panic. Brown's fighting so hard for the big banks on this issue makes a financial panic in the near future far more likely to happen. And how did Brown get rewarded for his hard work on weakening the Volcker Rule and other issues the Wall Street gang asked for his help on? His contributions from the financial industry "spiked sharply" during the critical three-week period he was carrying their water. No wonder: if all he did for the big banks was his work to weaken the Volcker Rule, that would be enough to make him their best friend forever.
But there are other reasons as well. Why else is Scott Brown Wall Street's BFF?
- He fought too hard to keep the big banks from having a19 billion tax imposed on them to pay for the financial reform bill. Nineteen billion dollars is pocket change compared to the trillions of dollars these banks destroyed through their financial shenanigans, or the trillion dollars in bailouts they got through TARP and the Federal Reserve. And they certainly had money to spare: the big banks were recording record profits -- and record bonuses -- last year while this tax was being considered.
- While Warren was fighting like a tiger for the new Consumer Financial Reform Bureau, Brown was voting to weaken it through an amendment that would have significantly watered down its powers.
- Brown also voted to simply end the CFPB after four years. Did he really think big banks and credit card companies were going to stop exploiting consumers after four years?
- Brown voted in favor of an amendment that would have stripped the financial reform bill of measures to toughen regulation of the derivative market. Derivatives were those little things that took down the entire market in 2008, a financial instrument that Warren Buffett referred to as a "weapon of mass destruction". Brown apparently didn't think they needed any regulation at all, in spite of the massive damage they had just caused.
- Brown voted to kill the proposal to end one of the single most destructive practices in the history of the financial industry, so-called "naked credit default swaps", which have been described as "selling insurance policies against bonds they (the sellers) never actually owned".
Now I will admit that Brown has some pretty tough competition as the best friend of Wall Street in Washington. Lots of Republican Senators and House members take their money and vote with them, and Tim Geithner certainly holds a special place in their hearts as the guy who helped bail them out while demanding no accountability in return. But the work Brown did on the Volcker helped them enormously -- it literally meant that they didn't have to fundamentally change the way they did much of their business. And there is one other factor that makes him their most special friend of all time: he is the candidate against Elizabeth Warren, who they fear more than anyone. Warren has been as clear as a bell that she will stand up to them, she will fearlessly take them on in behalf of the middle class and the consumers. There is a reason Brown consistently rakes in so many millions of dollars from the financial industry, a reason Massachusetts voters will be seeing tens of millions of dollars in anonymous super-PAC money spent against her. If Warren makes it to the Senate, she will be the toughest cop on the Wall Street beat they have had to face in several decades, so they will be giving Scott Brown enormous love in the months it come -- he is truly their favorite of all time.
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