Rather than campaigning on a typical pro-business platform, the Tea Party freshmen tapped into public resentment of big banks and bailouts. For example, then-candidate Sandy Adams (R-FL) said on her campaign website that she “opposes government bailouts” and “would have voted against TARP and the auto bailout.” Jeff Landry (R-LA) said bailouts of private businesses had “corrupted our free market system by rewarding the irresponsible and penalizing the responsible,” blasting “bank bailouts, which led to taxpayer money directly or indirectly going into multi-million dollar bonuses.”
But in Congress, the Tea Party has toed the line for big banks. Eleven of the 15 have become co-sponsors of H.R. 3461, a top priority for the ABA. According to Americans for Financial Reform, the legislation would “tilt the playing field further in the direction of excessive deference to industry interests and tie the hands of regulators attempting to protect the public interest.” The bill would make it harder for bank examiners to do their job, giving regulatory responsibilities to an industry that’s already shown it can’t police itself.
Here is what happened: