The Gift That Is Scott Brown
Scott Brown was a gift to the wayward Obama administration. Or at least that's the way Rahm Emanuel should look at Tuesday’s results. Watching Democrats lose the so-called 60th vote, itself a manifestation of the collective failure of purpose and nerve among modern Democrats, to a former male model who attracted disillusioned Obama voters who still want change, gives the White House and congressional leadership a chance to reboot the agenda and use 2010 as a sprint towards November.
Polls showed that large numbers of those who voted for Brown Tuesday night and Obama last November did so not because they thought Obama and Congress had gone too far and done too much in 2009, but rather had not done enough. Those voters believe that Obama hadn’t brought enough change, that the health care reform package wasn’t good enough, and that Obama was letting Wall Street get away with too much. Tuesday night wasn’t a tea-bagging referendum against Obama excessiveness, but rather a kick in the ass to a president who has let down millions of his supporters, a large number of whom stayed home in Massachusetts this week. And they’ll stay home again in November if the president doesn’t shake the bipartisan pixie dust out of his eyes and go after Wall Street, as he should have from Day One.
There are signs he will. Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times report this morning that the White House will come out for Paul Volcker’s agenda today to limit the size of big banks, and to partially reinstall Glass-Steagall, something that moves beyond the corporate-bought weak tea of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, and yes, Barney Frank. Rather than accepting the current big banks as they are and allowing them to remain too-big-to-fail, Volcker (and Scott Brown’s victory) has finally convinced Obama to pursue real reform. The White House now appears ready to go after the same banks that created this meltdown, took a taxpayer bailout, fought off real reform with millions in lobbying cash against the president, and then handed out billions in bonuses for the same behavior.
There is no downside in pushing this harder tone against Wall Street in an election year, as there is already bipartisan support from John McCain and Maria Cantwell for a full restoration of Glass-Steagall. Even if Obama doesn’t go quite that far, we’ve argued since Day One that a little populist anger against Wall Street, coupled with forcing the GOP to vote against it in an election year, are political winners for this White House.
It’s about time Mr. President. You’re only a year too late, but better late than never.