What's the Excuse for Blue State Democrats Who Voted to Roll Back Parts of Dodd-Frank?


Earlier tonight, the Senate officially voted 67–32 to roll back parts of Dodd-Frank, the bank regulation bill passed in 2010 in the midst of the recession. We knew this was coming, and the red state Democrats who voted for it are trumpeting an odd line in defense of their votes: They need the optics of working across the aisle with a hated president and Congress in order to win re-election. From Politico:

For Schumer, the banking bill and its rollback of some of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law’s regulations has been quite the tightrope to walk. The minority leader has to balance the needs of moderate caucus members who are desperate for a bipartisan accomplishment heading into brutal reelection races, and the priorities of liberals like Warren who believe they are fighting for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Plus, the New Yorker is already viewed with suspicion by liberals for his own ties to Wall Street.

This, as the Week’s Jeff Spross wrote yesterday, is bonkers, considering no one likes banks, even Trump voters: a Morning Consult poll taken right after the election in 2016 found that 49 percent of the President’s supporters wanted to keep or even expand Dodd-Frank as opposed to 27 percent who wanted it repealed or scaled back.

But even if you think that voters in Trump states love bills that disproportionately help Wall Street, that line of thinking ignores the reality that many of the Democrats who voted for the bill don’t even represent states that Trump won.

For example, the bill got the vote of the two senators from Delaware, Chris Coons and Tom Carper (who, full disclosure, I interned for as a college student in Wilmington). Delaware has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1994 or the governor’s mansion since 1988, the same year it last went for a Republican presidential nominee. It is one of eight states where Democrats have unified control over state government.

Coons isn’t up for re-election for another two years. Carper, who has never lost an election in his entire career, is up for re-election this year in a race that’s rated as solidly Democratic, and neither of the two Republicans who’ve announced their runs have ever held political office. While Delaware’s corporation laws make it something resembling an onshore tax shelter, it is one of the most liberal states in the country and neither senator has to worry about losing a race there anytime soon. So, what’s their excuse for voting for this bill?

Along with their Delaware colleagues, Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner voted for the bill as well. This is a state that also voted against Trump, and where less than five months ago Democrats rode a wave into sweeping statewide offices and nearly taking back a gerrymandered legislative chamber. What’s Kaine’s and Warner’s excuse?

Or Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who isn’t up for re-election until 2022 and represents a swing state that went for Clinton and which can’t stand the Trump agenda? Or Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who also represent a state Hillary Clinton won, one where even Republicans don’t like Trump, and who aren’t even up for re-election for another two and four years, respectively?

The answer is that there is no excuse. These Democrats, like their red state colleagues, all voted for this bill because—once again—they’ve put their faith in the banks to not gamble with the economy. One can only wonder how that story ends.

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