As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, sometimes you’ve just got to shake your head and wonder:
A bill that would weaken oversight of the banking industry is up for debate this week in the U.S. Senate, where Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet’s support of the measure is drawing heat from its liberal opponents who warn the proposal could lead to a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
Bennet was one of more than a dozen Democrats who joined with the Republican majority on Tuesday to help the measure clear a procedural hurdle and set up a final vote in the coming days.
Its advance drew fire from Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who said the legislation was “all about helping big banks.”
The New York Times’ Mike Konczal sums up the dismay of liberal Democrats over the number of Democrats who joined with the GOP majority in the Senate to advance this legislation:
Why would some Democrats provide support for a rollback of Dodd-Frank? Proponents argue that this bill provides much needed relief for community banks and credit unions, which, these proponents claim, face enormous difficulties. They also say that it doesn’t endanger financial reforms aimed against the largest and most dangerous players.
But that view is mistaken: This bill goes far beyond the health of community banks and credit unions. It removes protections for 25 of the top 38 banks; weakens regulations on the biggest players and encourages them to manipulate regulations for their benefit; and saps consumer protections.
What do Democrats get in return? Nothing substantive that they should want. They could demand better funding for regulators or an appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — or a vote on gun control…
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was particularly vocal in her criticism of Democrats who voted for the bill:
Senate Republicans voted unanimously for the #BankLobbyistAct. But this bill wouldn’t be on the path to becoming law without the support of these Democrats. The Senate just voted to increase the chances your money will be used to bail out big banks again. https://t.co/bfkEgNdl9C
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 6, 2018
Although Sen. Michael Bennet isn’t up for re-election for a number of years, it’s a problem to see him voting with Republicans once again on an issue for which his record has demonstrated a persistent blind spot. And it’s not just problematic for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s consumer watchdog allies. As a moderate Democratic Senator who has always tried to bring opposing sides to a compromise on issues like protections for finance-product consumers, Bennet is co-sponsoring legislation that overwhelmingly aggrieves one side. Either Bennet is unaware of the staunch opposition to the bill he’s sponsoring or he doesn’t care, and neither seems likely to ingratiate the side of this debate he should be trying to persuade.
And we’ll say it as nicely as we can: although Bennet has little to lose in the short term, collaborating with Republicans to weaken banking protections over the loud objections of a possible 2020 presidential candidate isn’t the way to rally base Democratic voters ahead of the 2018 elections. We would encourage, to the extent a course change for Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator is possible here, that it be considered.