Tag: Russ Feingold
With the downfall of Rep. Anthony Weiner, the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, the ousting of Senator Russ Feingold, and the dissecting out of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's congressional district, it's difficult to find many liberal members of Congress that continue to stand up for a no-excuses liberal policy agenda (granted, some of these said individuals didn't always toe the liberal policy line themselves). America, it seems, has moved further to the right and many of our "liberal" political representatives across the country appear unwilling to stick out their political necks for an agenda that seems less capable of making any political headway. Take Rep. Nancy Pelosi as one major example of this point. What some conservatives decry as a "radical liberal" (i.e. Nancy Pelosi) is to liberals like myself a pragmatic liberal who will shirk her liberal policies when circumstances dictate such an event.
Indeed, our Congress is full of pragmatic liberals like Jim Webb, Mark Warner, Henry Waxman, and many more. Although I respect these individuals for their relatively solid political leadership, they have consistently thrown off the liberal mantel when the coast has not been absolutely clear. Their unwillingness to stand up for a liberal policy agenda has left many of their liberal constituents without a voice in the Congress or a friend to turn to.
As America moves further to the right of the political spectrum, more individuals in the liberal camp will necessarily find themselves outside of the mainstream political discourse, a discourse which was never that liberal to begin with. If, however, you respond that the recent legalization of gay marriage in house of New York State provides a counterargument to my point, let's not be so quick to jump to that conclusion. The legalization (at least for now) of gay marriage in New York was not premised upon "equality for all," even though you'll hear shades of this argument. Rather, the right for gay individuals to marry was based upon an argument of "individual rights," a classical liberal argument. Liberals seek basic equality on moral grounds, not necessarily on grounds of individual rights and freedoms, even though this is a major component of modern liberal thought.
In an interview with WSLS-TV yesterday, Sen. Mark Warner summarized why he was very pleased with the financial reform legislation Congress just passed.
"We've now got a bipartisan bill that puts new rules of the road in place. It's going to end tax payer bailouts, it's going to make sure we've got rules in place so that no institution is too big to fail, it's going to make sure that a consumer that goes to try and get a mortgage or has a credit card has some rules that make sure they don't get into a house they can't pay for, or the credit card company won't jack up your rates without disclosure."
For me, the biggest irony of the vote on the bill was that Bob Corker (R-TN), who helped Warner write the part of the bill that is designed to force "too big to fail" financial institutions in trouble to unwind through bankruptcy, joined most of the "party of no" and voted against a bill he helped draft.
A rival to that in irony was the fact that Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin voted against the bill because of it had too many loopholes. Feingold's refusal forced Harry Reid to seek the vote of Scott Brown (R-MA), allowing Brown to write an additional loophole big enough to drive Goldman-Sach's proprietary trading desk and all the hedge funds in Massachusetts through.
Brown got a watering down of the so-called Volcker Rule. That rule originally would have prevented large bank holding companies from engaging in proprietary trading - making bets with its own money - as well as investing capital in hedge funds or private-equity funds. Thanks to Brown, the institutions can continue those financial gambles, the sorts of things that helped get us where we are. At least, the bill does limit how much capital a bank can bring to the "gambling table."
On another question he was asked in the WSLS interview, Warner refused to second-guess state government on how to spend the "surplus" created by tricks in budgeting, pushing up sales tax collections, and short-changing Virginia's retirement system. However, he pointed out that Virginia's budget would have been in dire straits without federal stimulus money that filled a massive budget hole, the stimulus money that every Republican from Virginia voted against.