In These Times: The New Populists

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In These Times: The New Populists

True, thanks to Congressional timidity, the biggest banks have only gotten bigger since the financial crisis five years ago, and the men (yes, mostly men) in charge of them are mostly still in charge. But Larry Summers, the architect of a good chunk of the deregulation that set the stage for the crisis in the first place, had withdrawn his name from consideration to be chair of the Federal Reserve, thanks to a populist uprising within the Democratic Party.

That uprising began with a letter circulated by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and signed by, among others, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), committing to support current Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, rather than Summers, for the top Fed post. Brown and Warren sit on the Banking Committee, through which Summers’ confirmation would have had to pass, and their resistance, along with that of Republicans and a few other Democrats, raised the prospect of a messy fight that President Barack Obama realized he was unlikely to win. In his letter to the president withdrawing his name, Summers said that it was clear his confirmation process would have been “acrimonious.”

The Senate may be a mass of gridlock, beholden to Wall Street donors and clogged by the constant abuse of the filibuster, but Brown and Warren are helping bring bank reform back to life.

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