The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson says the Republicans hope voters will forget their handmaiden-ly treatment of Wall Street, but the Warren wing of the Democratic party is likely to make that impossible:
Scarcely had the Republicans taken their oaths last week when they sought to enact, under an urgency provision that required a two-thirds vote for passage, a delay of one Dodd-Frank provision — the Volcker Rule — that prohibits publicly insured banks from making bets with their own (that is, taxpayer-insured) funds on risky collateralized loan obligations. Dodd-Frank was enacted in 2010; the Securities and Exchange Commission has given the banks till 2017 to divest themselves of these positions; the Republicans, apparently believing that seven years didn’t give the banks enough time to dispose of this profitable paper, wanted to extend that to 2019. Since the bill required a two-thirds super-majority, Democrats were able to defeat it, but on Wednesday, Republicans again brought it to a vote, this time requiring just a simple majority for passage — and it passed.
But why the urgency? Why the rush to let the banks run amok, even before Republicans turn their attention to authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, repealing Obamacare and reversing the president’s executive orders on immigration? Those are all causes, however, that Republicans want to highlight, for which their base is clamoring. Deregulating Wall Street, by contrast, isn’t high on the tea party’s to-do list, if it’s on it at all. By scurrying to give the banks what they want, Republicans can get it out of the way and hope that any public memory of this unseemly spectacle is eclipsed by the epic, more popular battles to come.
By pushing mega-bank welfare to the head of the line, Republicans also sent a clear signal to Wall Street that they’ll do whatever it takes to further feather the bankers’ nests. In return, they doubtless anticipate that the financial sector’s support for the GOP will continue to soar, even as its support for Democrats has slumped. In the early ’90s, Wall Street split its donations to the two parties’ candidates almost evenly, but in recent years it has favored the GOP. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2012, 68 percent of the contributions from the financial, insurance and real estate industries went to Republicans; in 2014, it was 62 percent. And since the financial sector is the largest donor to federal campaigns — it has invested a tidy $3.8 billion in candidates since 1990, $1.4 billion more than any other industry — the GOP’s scramble to court Wall Street is rooted in cold financial logic.