Elizabeth Warren is pissed, people.
This week, the Senate passed a financial reform bill that she did not support. Not one little bit. And neither did fellow “progressives,” like Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who is up for re-election this year and is speculated to be a potentially hot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
But a bunch of Warren’s fellow Democrats did support the act, including many from redder states where availability of banking services is a challenge. These Democrats were more sympathetic than Sen. Warren & co. to the plight of regional banks — the ones this week’s bill — S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Reform, and Consumer Protection Act — was trying to help, as one banking industry figure said, banks like “Eagle Bank, Union First, Zions.”
Explicitly not benefiting from it, industry experts say, were the big banks — the top 5+ in the country, except with regard to two provisions (one to make it simpler to buy state and municipal bonds, and one addressing the specific “custody bank” business model).
But Warren is outraged nonetheless, and she’s attacking her own side pretty mercilessly, clearly on a drive to make friends and influence people.
On Tuesday, Warren sent a fundraising email out saying the 17 Democrats who voted for the bill had “sided with big banks.” She followed up by bashing them in a fundraising dinner speech, saying they helped Republicans “deliver even more goodies for big banks.”
Facts and, like, not screwing up the campaigns of your imperiled colleagues are, it seems, less important than campaign dollars. And Warren knows how to bring in campaign cash, even if she’s oftentimes more sketchy on actual details of the financial sector and financial regulation than her ex-academia pedigree would suggest. Outrage is key.
Ignore that industry insiders think banks with between $10 billion and $70 billion in assets will benefit most from this bill, should it become law, as well as the generally inaccurate sweeping statements that suggest the bill was written to help, say, Goldman Sachs or loathed Wells Fargo. Warren semi-regularly fluffs her facts on what is supposed to be her area of policy expertise. Anger seems to matter more to her than getting stuff right.
Remember back in 2013, when Warren got called out by Ian Tuttle at National Review for introducing a bill “to extend to students the same loan interest rates allegedly offered to the country’s chief financial institutions,” despite the fact that “[s]aid interest rates for said greedy banks do not exist?” (Those are Tuttle’s words). Yeah.
Then there was her comment last year that an anti-arbitration rule pushed by her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “will allow working families to hold big banks accountable when they’re cheated.”
That only holds water if you think an average payout of $32 — what the CFPB itself calculated consumers would get out of new federal class-action settlements — amounts to “hold[ing] big banks accountable.” That seems like a hard conclusion to reach, also, in view of one study that indicates the odds of winning a payoff in a consumer class action suit are less than those of getting a straight flush in a poker game.
Then there was 2015, when Warren was awarded one of the Washington Post fact-checker’s Pinocchios of the Year because she “cited a figure based on a misleading and dated report … [and] wildly mischaracterized the number.” (You can read the full explanation for how she got things wrong here).
Warren also basically claimed, while picking a fight with then-President Obama, that “fast-track” trade rules “could easily” unwind Dodd-Frank. That statement was awarded an overly-generous “half-true” (a.k.a., half totally made up and bonkers) rating by Politifact.
Ultimately, few conservatives are going to complain if Warren is effectively scoring own goals throughout 2018 by going around kneecapping Claire McCaskill or Heidi Heitkamp, even erroneously, for supposedly doing Wall Street’s bidding, as opposed to that of, say, Eagle Bank.
But conservatives should care, as she gins up the #resisters to oppose good policy, and support bad policy, and given that Democrats might nominate her to run against President Trump in 2020. If they do, the next presidential contest may be a bonanza for fact-checkers, and not just because the incumbent routinely fibs, inflates and exaggerates.