Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Scott "Bankster" Brown: MA's Beloved New Senator

So it turns out that EVERYONE LOVES The Bankster!

From the Globe:

"Now more than ever, it truly rocks to be Scott Brown.

The freshman US Senator, a Republican, is this blue state’s most beloved politician — more popular than even the president, according to a Globe poll this week. Our pollster didn’t ask how Brown’s favorables compare to God’s, but my bet is it would be a pretty close call.

And though it hardly seems possible, Brown is even more popular in Washington than he is here. His phones ring night and day: Everybody — the Treasury secretary, Arnold Schwarzenegger, House and Senate leaders, jobless workers — has been begging him to support their causes.

Five months on the job, and already he’s parting legislative seas.

With all of that love and power, you can’t blame Brown for getting a big head. And as an interview he gave two of his fans on WEEI last Friday made clear, it is pretty darned big.

“So, last night I got off the plane and I’m driving through Wrentham saying, ‘Man, I just can’t believe I’m a United States Senator,’ ’’ he crowed to his adoring interlocutors. “And then Tim Geithner calls me on the phone and says, ‘Scott, I just wanted to go through some things that we’re working on right now . . .’ He just called me a minute ago, too . . .

“Obviously, I am the key vote. They know they have to keep me in the loop.’’

No matter what Brown does, he’s a populist hero.

For example, repeatedly voting against an extension of unemployment benefits for laid-off workers, and for extra money to preserve services for the mentally disabled, makes him a hero because he’s holding down the deficit, saving the Average Guy taxes down the line.

Nobody seems to care that lots of folks, including some respected deficit hawks, think that’s a shortsighted, destructive stance in a recession.

“We need stimulus now and restraint later,’’ says Isabel Sawhill, a budget expert at the Brookings Institution. “On strictly economic grounds, it makes sense to extend the payments, otherwise these groups will be a tremendous drag on the economy.’’

Talk to the truck, ma’am.

Or take Brown’s stance on the bill Treasury Secretary Geithner was calling about: A Wall Street reform package aimed at taming the Wild West that is our financial system.

Voters sent Brown to Washington partly because he promised an end to backroom dealing. But it turns out he’s rather an ace at it himself: Holding his vote over Democrats’ heads, he got them to weaken restrictions on the kinds of risky bets that led to the financial crisis.

Having secured that gift for banks and hedge funds, Brown voted for the Senate version of the bill — even though its cost would add to the deficit.

Then, after House and Senate negotiators found another way to pay for the bill — namely, $19 billion in charges imposed on the biggest financial institutions themselves — Brown jumped ship.

He wasn’t protecting banks, Brown said. It’s just a coincidence that they hated the charges. He was looking out for the Little Guy, since the banks would just pass along the $19 billion to customers in higher fees.

It didn’t matter that the new rules would make it harder for banks to raise those fees. And it didn’t matter that any other way of funding the new system would also use taxpayer money, only more directly.

Brown’s balk was praised as another heroic, populist move. It sent 43 legislators sprinting back to a conference committee to come up with another way to pay for the bill: They’re now proposing to use leftover bank bailout money — taxpayers’ money, of course. Brown . . . says he needs the July Fourth recess to decide whether to vote for the Wall Street reforms.

But he needn’t lose any sleep. Whatever he decides, Scott Brown can do no wrong."

But wait!

Maybe he can do wrong! Maybe he must!

With his coming vote on Kagan, which way will the Bankster go?

Will it be flip? Or flop?

WASHINGTON — The upcoming vote on the Supreme Court nomination of former Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan will present Republican Scott Brown with the most defining ideological test yet of his young Senate career, forcing him into a stark choice that is bound to anger some of his supporters no matter how he decides.

Kagan’s solid performance during committee hearings last week all but assures her confirmation by a comfortable margin, so Brown is not in a position to affect the outcome. But analysts say the political stakes are high for Brown personally.

If he supports her, Brown risks angering conservative activists across the country, an important source of campaign contributions. If he opposes such a highly accomplished woman with strong Massachusetts ties, the state’s independents, particularly women, may question his assertion that being a “Scott Brown Republican’’ does not automatically mean toeing the GOP line.


In beating Democrat Martha Coakley in January, Brown won two-thirds of critical independent voters, according to exit polls. Independents, many of whom lean left politically in Massachusetts, will again be a key constituency in 2012.

“Due to the lack of concrete issues with Kagan’s candidacy offered by her critics, it would be difficult for Brown to vote against Kagan and not expect some electoral consequences particularly among independents and female voters who turned out for Brown’’ in his race against Coakley, said Tatishe Nteta, political science professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I'm still enjoying the electoral consequences of those voters who turned out for the Bankster, believe me. How about you?

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