In what has to be one of the most morally and politically bankrupt ideas of all time, Ben White says the White House is considering someone for head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and surprise! It’s not Elizabeth Warren. It’s…Melissa Bean:
Buzz on Friday had Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) possibly getting tapped as the first Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head depending on the outcome of her too-close-to-call reelection race, in which Republican Joe Walsh maintained a slight lead as of Sunday afternoon. But a possible Bean nomination is not sitting well with reformers on the left who say the moderate Illinois congresswoman is far too close to the banking industry. Said one administration official: “It’s not clear she would be acceptable to the reformers.”
On the McLaughlin Report this weekend, Bill Press said Russ Feingold lost because he was too much of a “purist,” and that he should have taken PAC money. Now it’s “reformers on the left” who will object to Melissa Bean as the head of the CPFA because she is “far too close to the banking industry.” The implication is that it’s liberal “extremists” who are hobbling the party’s ability to act pragmatically, and want to drag the Democrats over a liberal cliff after the country has declared its preference for conservatives.
What the country has declared is that it prefers jobs, it doesn’t like the fact that the government is giving all their tax dollars to banks, and it consistently votes against the party in power if it isn’t standing up to the banks.
- FACT: Voters in the 2010 election thought the economy was the most important issue in virtually every poll.
- FACT: When asked who is to blame for the state of the economy, the #1 answer was the banks.
- FACT: Republicans won 56% of swing voters who blamed the banks.
Sebastian Jones, Pro Publica:
Many of those who lost come from conservative districts and are members of the Blue Dog Coalition, another conservative House coalition, but other New Democrats also fared poorly. Vice chair Melissa Bean, a critical player in the group’s efforts to weaken the overhaul of the financial services industry, is trailing a Tea Party-backed opponent in her suburban Chicago district.…Of those who blamed the banks, a solid majority voted against the Democrats, suggesting that despite having passed financial reform legislation, the party couldn’t shake off the notion it was too close to the banks.
- FACT: Financial reform is the only major Democratic action of the past two years that is popular with a majority of the public, by a margin of 61-37.
- FACT: Audit the Fed, one of the key provisions of the financial reform bill, was something both liberals AND conservatives fought for, and was supported by 80% of the public. Only 9% opposed it. Bean voted AGAINST Audit the Fed.
- FACT: Melissa Bean and the New Democrats were able to shoot the House derivatives plan full of holes.
- FACT: Three in four Americans (76%) wanted the government to block or recover the bonuses AIG paid its executives after taking TARP money.
- FACT: Melissa Bean introduced an amendment to gut a House bill to limit bonuses for TARP recipients. It passed.
- FACT: President Obama and the DNC made attacks on Chamber of Commerce money one of the tentpoles of the 2010 campaign.
- FACT: Melissa Bean “earned the most support of any incumbent from the US Chamber of Commerce,” per a Sunlight Foundation study of how the US Chamber of Commerce used former government officials as part of their lobbying team on financial regulation. Bean’s former Chief of Staff John Michael Gonzalez was one of the nineteen former government officials they hired.
- FACT: Bean received over 40% of her 2009 campaign contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate sector.
Somebody will have to explain to me why appointing Melissa Bean to head the CFPA is “good politics,” or why only “reformers on the left” would think it was a boneheaded move. Bean has consistently opposed popular measures to rein in the banks, while taking huge sums of money from the Chamber of Commerce and the banks, at a time when the public blames the banks (and politicians who are too cozy with them) for the state of the economy. The fact that her name would be floated at all as the head of an agency to oversee the banks is an indication that there’s some sort of death wish on the part of Democrats for the 2012 election.
But as a matter of policy, let’s remember that Melissa Bean was the author of the amendment to neuter the CFPA. She led the charge on behalf of the Wall Street banks to include “federal preemption” in the legislation, meaning that state regulations could be no tougher than the federal guidelines. Heather Booth, director of Americans for Financial Reform, said that “Bean’s amendment was considered the biggest threat to the CFPA.”
Before the election, Glenn Greenwald was on Democracy Now talking about Elizabeth Warren’s appointment as “Special Advisor” to Timothy Geithner, to help set up the CFPA. He said:
You even saw, with the cynical appointment of Elizabeth Warren, who probably will do some good being able to create this agency to police Wall Street abuses, nonetheless they stayed away from the fight to actually appoint her as the director of this agency, so that once the election is over, they can find somebody more pleasing to Wall Street.
If in fact Bean is appointed to head the CFPA, it’s safe to say that appointing Elizabeth Warren was indeed a “cynical” bait-and-switch move meant to gin up enthusiasm among liberals before the election. Because Bean would be much, much more pleasing to Wall Street. And it won’t just be “liberals” who think so.