Today’s Globe reports that, in the last couple of days of the Senate race, Scott Brown pulled in nearly half a million dollars from the high-flying finance industry — the vast majority from out of state.
In addition to financial giants such as Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, the donors included executives from hedge funds and private equity firms.
Now, why would they do that? Because they liked his truck? Because they think it’s important that suspects in terrorism cases be tried in military tribunals? Well, no.
Martin Gruss, owner of a West Palm Beach, Fla., investment firm, said he gave $2,400 to Brown because he vehemently disagrees with the policies being pursued by Obama and his economic aides. “They have no real understanding of the business implications of their actions,” he said, adding that limits on trading securities would undermine the position of the United States as the world’s financial capital…. “People like me are scouring the country for conservative candidates,” said John Mumford, a California venture capitalist who gave the maximum $2,400 contribution to Brown four days before the election. “What’s going on in Washington is against everything I believe in, which is small government, balanced budgets, and support for free enterprise.” … “Basically, I thought making him the 41st Republican vote in the Senate would prevent some really terrible legislation from getting through, [California securities analyst Richard Hillman] said.
So here is Brown’s big chance: vote with Obama on financial regulation, and specifically on the consumer protection agency.
If Brown wants any shot at reelection in 2012, he needs to pick a couple of high-profile issues on which he goes with Obama and bucks the Republican leadership. It can’t be health care, since he campaigned on voting “no.” Ditto with the bank tax, plus that’s relatively short money. (And I personally love the idea of Republicans blocking a tax on the bailout recipients.)
But on the overhaul of financial regulations, and on the consumer protection agency (issues on which Brown took no specific position during the campaign), Brown has a huge opportunity. It’s at least a three-fer. By backing Obama on this, Brown can (1) prove that he actually is an “independent” thinker who won’t mindlessly do the GOP leadership’s bidding; (2) score an enormous public relations coup that keeps his name on the front pages for a good while longer; and (3) prove that he can’t be bought by a bunch of out-of-state fatcats. Oh, and he can also help prevent the economy from melting down again. So it’s a four-fer.
Maybe it’s even a five-fer, because I don’t think the tea partiers who helped him win are all that psyched about the finance industry. It’s hard for me to imagine that, if Brown votes for broader consumer protections from the douchebags who melted down the economy last time, he’ll be abandoned by the righty grassroots as a result. Switching his vote on health care? Yeah, probably. But on this? I’d think they might actually like it.