If you haven't left work yet...
We have a special new podcast episode up today, an extended interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Rep. Brad Miller, a longtime member of the Financial Services Committee, which she just joined. You can listen here. We talk about her campaign, her first few weeks in office, how she uses social media to gauge public attitudes, 2020, and a bunch more.
And we talk about how for decades in Washington, one of the most useful perches for a Democrat in a tough election was a seat on the Financial Services Committee. The issues were dry and often bipartisan, with little risk of anything winding up on the evening news.
In 2007, when Democrats took control of the House, incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi even expanded the size of the panel, to make extra room for conservative Blue Dogs and business-friendly New Democrats who were elected in swing districts. When another wave brought in even more centrist Democrats in the 2008 election, a klatch of those freshmen were stuffed on the committee, too, even as the financial crisis was fomenting a
They were put there to make it easier for them to raise money from the financial industry, to help them with their reelections.
So many centrist freshmen and sophomores were on the panel that they began to be referred to by other Democrats as “the unreliable bottom two rows,” a reference to their junior-level seating assignments in the committee’s amphitheater. They formed a bloc that would often side with Republicans and make regulating Wall Street difficult.
The host had formed itself into a new shape for the parasite, and now the parasite was feasting.
But as the financial crisis turned into the Great Recession, and it all passed without Wall Street facing serious repercussions, attitudes toward the people sitting on that once-sleepy committee began to change. It wasn’t the quiet way to make easy money anymore. Now, all of a sudden, the public cared. And so the committee has become a less desirable assignment. And that opened up room for a squad of progressive freshmen to win spots on it. Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Katie Porter and Rashida Tlaib all won seats, and were joined by incumbent Tulsi Gabbard on a panel chaired by Maxine Waters.