Facing a potential electoral challenge from consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren next year, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) appears to be trying to portray himself as a stronger Wall Street reformer than she, telling NECN this month that he “worked very hard” to ensure the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law:
BROWN: I worked very hard to make sure that banks didn’t act like casinos with our money. So the bill that she was apparently working on, I mean was able to work through as a result of [Warren’s] position, you know, I worked on it, I voted on it, I pushed it through. […] So, who doesn’t want to protect the Middle class? But there’s a big difference between talking and actually doing it.
As the Boston Globe’s Alex Katz notes today of the comments, “By painting himself as a strong supporter of Wall Street reform, Brown appears to be trying to neutralize Warren,” who was a leading advocate of Dodd-Frank and went on to help establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which the law created.
Contrary to “push[ing] it through,” Brown dragged his feet on supporting Dodd-Frank and only did so after his demands to water down the bill were met. After his upset election in January 2010, he became the key vote on the bill and leveraged that position to extract big concessions favored by banks, who had given generously to his campaign. First, Brown forced Democrats to strip from the bill a $19 billion bank tax. He also successfully pushed to water down a key reform — the so-called “Volcker rule” — that was aimed at preventing banks from making risky trades with dollars backed by the government. The carve out helped large mutual funds in his state.
In fact, Brown initially opposed the entire Wall Street reform bill and threatened to join the Republican filibuster of the legislation, which would have prevented it from even getting an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
Meanwhile, as “Brown and his Senate staff were working both publicly and behind the scenes to scuttle” these reforms, the senator took in $140,000 from financial firms — 400 percent more than the average received by other GOP senators over the same time period — according to the Boston Globe. A ThinkProgress analysis revealed that during his campaign, banks and their allies gave Brown’s campaign huge 11th hour contributions and helped with a significant get-out-the-vote effort. He was also supported by outside groups friendly to Wall Street like the Club for Growth. Overall, the financial industry is Brown’s second largest contributor.
Warren, on the other hand, has devoted her entire career to making the world of finance work better for consumers. She had previously chaired the TARP oversight panel and has a distinguished academic career focusing on these issues. Yet Brown suggests that she’s been merely “talking” while he’s been “actually doing it.”