Prall: A bleak future for the economically liberal

BY JACOB PRALL | APRIL 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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Economically liberal Democrats have little to look forward to in D.C. Both of the most-likely candidates for Democratic Party leadership (Hillary Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer, White House and Senate Minority leader respectively) are Wall Street Democrats. Liberals who envision a Democratic Party untethered to the whims of Wall Street are facing an increasingly bleak future.

First off, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will step down from his position in 2016. His replacement will most likely be Schumer, D-N.Y. For some (including Reid) Schumer is the best, most logical choice. He’s a strong leader and seen by many as being capable of turning the Democratic Party into a center-left powerhouse, capable of uniting Democrats and winning back a majority in Congress.

This is all well and good for supporters of Schumer and his allies on Wall Street. Many left-leaning groups, like Democracy for America, are making noise on Capitol Hill. They’re calling for senators such as Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to take on the leadership position. They see Schumer as a Wall-Street-wing Democrat, one of many who spend more time defending Wall Street then the average American.

In many ways, Schumer is a Wall Street Democrat. The senator has worked closely with Wall Street and has defended its causes for decades. The placement of such a figure in one of the most powerful positions of the Democratic Party is threatening to many, especially economic populists. Former Republican Gov. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire commented on CNN, “[Schumer] knows everyone in the financial community on a first-name basis.”

That isn’t to say Gregg doesn’t support Schumer. He went on to comment on Schumer’s considerate nature and mediating attitude. The promotion is also a long time coming — Schumer has served as the vice head of the Democratic Conference for eight years.

Aside from Schumer’s possible ascension, an even bigger threat looms for liberals against Wall Street — Clinton. The Clintons have a long history of supporting Wall Street. In her 2008 campaign, the two top donors to her campaign were Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. A recent Politico article asserted that, aside from Republican Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, there are no Republican candidates Wall Street would prefer over Clinton.

This is bad news for those of us who prefer Main Street to Wall Street. The financial crisis of 2008 was due by and large to under-regulation in the banking system and foolish risks that made some extremely wealthy and emptied the coffers of many others.

A leader should have a fine understanding of the financial market; that is a given. When this understanding becomes a relationship, however, that’s when things become dangerous for the vast majority of Americans. When interests don’t line up between the banking elite and us, who do you suppose will have more sway: the vast oceans of citizens going about their business or the few pointed voices of massive donors?

When politicians become indebted to anyone more than their constituents, their constituents (those they are sworn to serve) become secondary in the much larger scheme of things. Improving your sturdy attic won’t support your crumbling foundation — they might just collapse in each other. 

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