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Bank Lobbyist on Rep. Maxine Waters as Chair of Financial Services Committee: “Just the name sends shivers up the spine”

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Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  You can follow him on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller

Did you know that most international banks would leave America if Congresswoman Maxine Waters became the Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee in the House of Representatives?  Apparently, that’s what the financial services industry is saying.  An expert at Pace University and former McKinsey consultant named John Allen James actually argued this in an article that was breathtaking in its viciousness.  He claimed that Waters, a sitting Congresswoman for over twenty years, simply hates people in suits and ties.  That’s how arrogant the industry has become.

There’s a reason for the hyperbole.

Last month, Yves highlighted this article, which technically was on the coming fight between senior Democrat Maxine Waters and senior Democrat Carolyn Maloney over the top spot on the Financial Services Committee now that the bank-friendly Barney Frank is retiring.  Maloney, of course, is the driving force behind several initiatives to deregulate Wall Street, including the JOBS Act (which Alexis Goldstein took down in Maloney’s face on Up with Chris Hayes).  She also pushed a bill through committee to get rid of a significant derivatives regulation by redefining a transparent public swaps exchange as two guys talking on the phone.  Maloney as ranking member of the Financial Services Committee would be a victory for the New Democrat caucus and its banking allies.  Waters, of course, carries her own baggage.  She is under an ethics cloud, which had dragged on for years inconclusively (but I suspect will wrap up without consequences).  She is widely hated by the financial services community, and she supported problematic policies around Fannie and Freddie in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Still, how would Rep. Waters do as ranking member?  Or let’s say the Democrats take the majority (unlikely but possible), how would she do as Chair?  I suspect we’d see one thing we never saw from a Democratic Financial Services Committee – a subpoena.  My experience with Waters has two parts – I was with her when she stumped against the pro-war Democrat Joe Lieberman in a Senate primary in 2006, something Democrats simply never ever ever ever do against each other.  Ever.  But she did it.  And I saw her work on policy responses to the financial crisis, focusing on low income housing, foreclosures, and a bit on derivatives (the New Dems really carved that out as their own).  Her record of hearings is clear as Chair of the Housing Subcommittee – she wanted to fix HAMP and deal with foreclosures.  She opposed Larry Summers as a possible candidate for the World Bank Presidency, and is one of the more aggressive skeptics of the IMF.

She also tried to bring the foreclosure fraud to light.  In late 2010, there was a set of internal and external meetings in the Financial Services Committee on the concept of foreclosure fraud, securitization issues and the housing crisis.  This series crystallized the issues, brought forth a series of experts to testify, and put the banking industry on the spot.  While too late to have a legislative impact on the crisis, these forums served as a way to focus the unfolding scandal of robo-signing and teach the press and judges that the problem was real and taken seriously by elite lawmakers.  The one open hearing was held late in 2010.  The person who spearheaded the charge for these hearings was Rep. Maxine Waters, using her platform as the Chairwoman of the Housing Subcommittee and her staff to drive an educational campaign inside of Congress.

Most people know her for ethics quandary, or Fannie and Freddie support, or because she’s black and aggressive, an archetype that white American males in finance really do not like.  But she has a record, and while mixed, it’s clear that she would be a different kind of committee leader than we’ve seen in the past few years.

This is why the banking industry and Maloney’s staff are engaged in a low-level, bitter, and important fight over the committee positioning.  It’s hard to beat Waters, because the Congressional Black Caucus would get extremely angry at such an obvious attack on their institutional prerogative granted by seniority.  But there are probably internal deliberations at party fundraising committee and with the Democratic leadership where lobbyists are letting the Democratic elites know just what a ranking member or Chairwoman Waters would mean to fundraising.  And of course, there are the nasty anonymous attacks from lobbyists calling Waters crazy.

Read these quotes from bank lobbyists, and you’ll see what I mean.

“Just the name,” said one financial industry lobbyist, “sends shivers up the spine.”

“She is wacko,” said one New York banking lobbyist. “She is very flamboyant, very old school. She is not one of these younger, sophisticated members of Congress. She has no grasp of the technical side of finance. She was elected during a different time in history and she hasn’t read a book since.”

“Most of the international banks would start folding their tents” if Ms. Waters were to became chair of the committee, said John Allen James, the executive director of Pace University’s Center for Global Governance, Reporting and Regulation and a former consultant for McKinsey. “She is anti-bank. She doesn’t like anybody that wears a suit and a tie. She yells at them, and says why aren’t you doing more to address the housing problem, why aren’t you doing more to raise the boats of the less fortunate. It is a total misunderstanding of what capitalism is.”

Even if the status quo in Washington were to entirely reverse itself—and the Republicans were to retake the White House and the Senate, and the Democrats captured control of the House—bankers say they still would have a reason to be afraid. Committee chairs are granted vast powers in Congress, and Wall Streeters expect that a Chairwoman Waters would haul them before the committee routinely. The big banks could face the prospect of regularly trekking down to Washington (on commercial airlines, one assumes) to explain their lending or hiring practices.

….

“She is in the mold of the grandstanding politicians,” said Anthony Randazzo, the director of economic research for the Reason Institute, who has testified in front of the Financial Services committee. “When she asks questions, she doesn’t want to know an answer, or know what my opinion is as an expert. She is always trying to push particular idea or trying to get out of the process some statement that she could criticize, or trying to back up some preconceived notion of hers.”

And so most of Wall Street is hoping that a local representative, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of the East Side, emerges as an alternative to Ms. Waters.  “You have different versions of Democrats and Maloney is far more moderate,” said Mr. James. “And she would be under the influence of Schumer and Bloomberg and Cuomo, who say don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”

….

“I have talked to a lot of Democrats in Congress and there is a sense among them that seniority would not be triumphant in this case,” said one Wall Streeter closely aligned with Democrats in the House.

“People in finance are incredibly concerned,” said one Hill insider close to both Ms. Maloney and the financial community. “They worry that Maxine will be incredibly unpleasant to work with. She doesn’t have a history of being a partner, while Maloney, people are finding out, does.”

And then there’s Rep. Waters.

“Let me let you in on a secret: I am the senior-most person serving on the Financial Services Committee,” she told the 2012 California State Democratic Convention last month. “Barney Frank is about to retire, and guess who’s shaking in their boots? The too-big-to-fail banks and financial institutions and all of Wall Street because Maxine Waters is going to be the next chair of the Financial Services Committee.”

I don’t now if that’s true.  And there are obvious blemishes in Rep. Waters’s career.  But the bank lobbyists make a pretty compelling case for her being the senior Democrat on the committee.

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74 comments

  1. Mogden

    My hatred for bankers burns as brightly as ten thousand suns, but Maxine Walters is as dumb as a fence post.

    1. mcarson

      She’s smart enough to put Banksters in jail.

      She’s smart enough to see through lies.

      She’s smart enough to remember the difference between truth and lies.

    2. abelenkpe

      Really? Do you know her? I’ve met her several times and she never came across as dumb or ill informed. She has done lots for the community though. What have you done?

      1. Tao Jonesing

        I used to admire Maxine Waters. Then she spoke at one of my graduation ceremonies and exposed how ignorant she truly is. I was shocked at her venality.

        I won’t say she is dumb, though. She understands power, and that is all that matters in what passes for society in this country.

        But good luck worshipping her. Maybe this time keeping the faith will work out for the so-called “progressives”.

        1. Dennis

          Agreed. Watching her during 2008-2009 was just painful. Its really shameful how the left has turned to anyone who criticized the banks in any way as their saviors. Just because the Republican party can embrace ignorance and venality and succeed in advancing their political agenda doesnt mean the left has to. But this is tragedy has been playing out for a while now, even on this site where posts that are just fundamentally wrong are posted and heralded. Its sad, because the left doesnt only have to fight off the barbaric right but also the ignorant left.

          1. Mike M

            Right. The bank haters here (and, I’ll buy all of you a drink if we ever meet, because I share your disgust) should really stop and think what would happen the next time America runs to the polling stations after we get a good taste of her ignorance spewing from the nightly news for a few years. Talk about gasoline on the fire.

        2. C

          What was it she said exactly? Not that I’m assuming she didn’t say something but I am curious for specifics.

  2. F. Beard

    “People in finance are incredibly concerned,” said one Hill insider close to both Ms. Maloney and the financial community. “They worry that Maxine will be incredibly unpleasant to work with. She doesn’t have a history of being a partner, while Maloney, people are finding out, does.” http://www.politicker.com/2012/03/14/waters-rising-financiers-fear-rough-treatment-from-l-a-rep-maloney-to-the-rescue/ [bold added]

    There it is: an admission that the banks require a partnership with government.

    And so they do. But the reverse is certainly not true. The US Government has no need for the banks. And as for the private sector, shouldn’t it be able to craft financing solutions without government privilege? Solutions that “share” wealth and power rather than steal and concentrate them?

    1. F. Beard

      Maxine Waters at least understands that credit creation is discriminatory since the so-called “credit-worthy” tend to not be black.

    2. keepon

      And a whole lotta good that did for you & me, huh? Where in the name of God was he while all this bankster stuff was going down?

      The banks OWN the US Government. Did you forget that already? We need to put in someone who is bank friendly? Puh-leeze! Just what we need is someone who will shut down OWs/free speech when Bloomburg’s Pals are feeling the heat, or makes Schumer-like seductions to immigrants ‘buy my constituent’s foreclosed home and we’ll throw in a visa.’ What ARE you saying?!

      Who was it Ms. Waters made road-kill of when she went up one side of him and down the other with ‘so you want me to believe that 600 million Americans, who didn’t know each other from Adam, and in ALL parts of this Nation, got up on the same morning and said “I’m going to screw the banks and QUIT paying my mortgage today.” An entire Nation? I ain’t buyin’ it,’ said Waters.

      So if the fact that she remembers she went to Washington to stand for the People is old fashioned- I’ll take it. Unabashedly FEARLESS in calling out a liar? (Applause seems more appropriate.) Is that why some would say she’s crazy?

      More like crazy is a US Federal Court Judge who rubber stamps the 49 US AGs settlement, on which they worked for over a year, which legitimizes the RICO crimes it was supposed to stop. Now there’s crazy, people!

      Guess I’m not only old-fashioned; I’m FOR old fashioned. If you’re paying attention, “New fashioned” appears to have screwed us all and blown up this Nation. It doesn’t work anymore. It used to. Before the cronies went full-blown.
      Yeh. Let’s do put in another one. Who’s writing here tonight?

    1. Rcoutme

      Be very careful what you wish for. If the criticism that she is only asking questions to support pre-conceived notions is true, then she would make a very, very bad chairwoman. I want to see the banksters get their just desserts as much as anyone, but I don’t want an idiot screwing up the chance to accomplish that!

      I’m no fan of the pilots who missed their destination, but I wouldn’t trade them for those who hijacked the planes on 9/11/01.

      1. diptherio

        “If the criticism that she is only asking questions to support pre-conceived notions is true, then she would make a very, very bad chairwoman.”

        And how would that make her different from any other politician, or just any other person, for that matter?

    2. Conscience of a Conservative

      There are many reasons a person can be scary. The trait does not necessarily lend itself to being an effective regulator or chairman of a congressional committee.

          1. Christophe

            Conscience,

            No, the correct term is “scary.” We need the bankers to be too scared to continue their decimation of the legal code. They are hoping for someone they can pretend to “respect” while continuing their carnage with no fear. Their framing appears to have constrained your thinking as intended.

  3. Middle Seaman

    The litmus tests approach to politics involves extremes, hate and fake reality. If Waters is investigated for ethics violations, it means nothing. It isn’t a mark against her. Lieberman is as despicable politician as they come, but people who worked with him for years cannot just turn their backs on him. You don’t want your colleagues to turn on you. Lieberman had excellent record supporting unions; the unions remembered it and supported him although not with enthusiasm. Barney Frank was not a friend of banks; he was one of the only liberals left and a realist. Maloney represents NYC where the banks are. She doesn’t represent coal miners. Of course, she will support banks! That’s her job.

    Waters is a great fighter for the poor and African Americans and she has my support. (I don’t live in CA.)

    1. jake chase

      BArney Frank was not a friend of banks? You mean he just took the money and didn’t give them every single thing they wanted for twenty years? Sure fooled me.

    2. Robespierre

      “Of course, she will support banks! That’s her job.”

      That is so wrong and explains why the country is the way it is where financial crimininal control the power and the people don’t see anything wrong with that sorry state of affairs.

      So it is clear to you: Her job is to support the people (“as we the people”) not the banks. Last time I checked congressmen work for THE PEOPLE. Well the moral uncorrupted ones do…

  4. we're going to put their heads on sticks

    While one would of course prefer as chair Islam Karimov or Vlad Tepes with their specialized technical knowledge in respect of making soup or shashlik of Jamie Dimon, Ms. Waters will do.

  5. javagold

    i have always seen Maxine Waters, as crazy , like a fox….i say let her go at….if she makes mistakes, it will not be any worse than do nothings we had for the past 5 years, it will be entertaining and who knows maybe she can land a knockout punch

  6. Jamie Diamond

    Banksters lie about what they’re afraid of. Also – which one of ‘em isn’t “International.”? They fear no one in Congress, since they own it too.

  7. PQS

    “She yells at them, and says why aren’t you doing more to address the housing problem, why aren’t you doing more to raise the boats of the less fortunate. It is a total misunderstanding of what capitalism is.”

    Mr. Professional Grifter Apologist, your slip is showing….

  8. Jamie Diamond

    Hey Matt, why can’t we censure Bankster Mark Warner in VA?
    He’s a D, but wow, what a Bankster, Bankster, Bankster.
    I typed thrice for emphasis!

  9. Mark Hoffman

    “Most of the international banks would start folding their tents” if Ms. Waters were to became chair of the committee, said John Allen James…

    Hey, that’s a feature, not a bug! Let them go! What have they brought to our economy in the last five years besides 20 million lost jobs and $10 trillion in lost equity? They’re criminally inclined, insanely overpaid, and toxic to a free economy. Let them go elsewhere and screw up THEIR economy! In fact, let’s slam and lock the door after they leave–and good riddance!

    1. diptherio

      Very true. And if we don’t eject the international bankers from our shores, won’t that open us up to assertions that we are stockpiling “weapons of mass destruction?”

      1. Tao Jonesing

        Apparently, Maxine Waters is the latest normative inversion of the Great White Hope. Obama did not work out so well, but Ms. Waters will take us to the MAXine!

        Let’s discuss how that worked out in a couple of years. Make a note of your position and keep it under your pillow until then. If you are able to be honest with yourself, you will be disappointed with the outcome.

        This is all political theater. Kabuki for people who think they’re smart.

    2. SidFinster

      Exactly what I was thinking.

      “OK, so her mere presence is enough to make international banks leave the country. Good, but what else does she bring to the table?”

  10. 2laneIA

    I saw Carolyn Maloney in the clutches of Alexis Goldstein and she did not come across as having integrity in what she was saying. The only other explanation is that she had no idea what she was talking about, which I don’t believe. That she had to end by saying “send me legislation” would be funny except it isn’t. The last quality we want in the chair of the financial services committee is residency in New York, where your constituents include the occasional vampire squid and Vikram Pandit, which may be redundant.

    1. Glen

      Maloney was a real joke. Letting her in as chair would be a disaster. I’d rather have Waters in as chair.

      If this means TBTF foreign banks that have been sucking on the Fed’s teat leave, I say good f&*king riddance, we got plenty of banks, most of them well run, and not crooks. But we got some TBTF banks that need to be given to the FDIC and broken up. TBTF is too big to exist. And we’ve the Wall St investment banks that need Glass Steagall rammed down their throats so far that you can read the law out their a$$.

      If Waters can get even a fraction of this done, she is the best qualified for the job.

  11. Collapse

    Waters voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War. Banksters were licking their chops to get in on the profiteering, so this was a bold but embedded and therefore insignifigant stand against a tragic American disaster. Really didn’t matter if most of the population were marched by the media into something that will be revealed as more devasting than Vietnam, they did it anyway. So it is with Banksters, about all they have between righteous fury is co-opted resistance, entertainment media, and a 24-7 distraction to keep people away from the horrible truth.

  12. briansays

    now let me suggest what can happen
    ms. pelosi can say
    banksters if you fund enough democrats so i can retake the house i can asure you she will not get the position
    otherwise well i just dunno

    1. Mark Hoffman

      “We are so screwed as a nation. So many serious problems that we need to face and address and we put a dumb as a brick , racist black woman in charge of the finance committee,” Mike says.

      Hey Mike, you present no evidence that Maxine Waters is a “dumb as a brick, racist black woman.” You’re projecting there, trollboy. In fact, Waters is bright, not a racist, clear-eyed, focused, and one of the people in congress who can and will address “the serious problems that we need to fact and address.” She makes banksters squirm, and that alone makes her a heroine in my book.

  13. Mike

    We are so screwed as a nation. So many serious problems that we need to face and address and we put a dumb as a brick , racist black woman in charge of the finance committee.

    1. Mark Hoffman

      “We are so screwed as a nation. So many serious problems that we need to face and address and we put a dumb as a brick , racist black woman in charge of the finance committee,” Mike says.

      Hey Mike, you present no evidence that Maxine Waters is a “dumb as a brick, racist black woman.” You’re projecting there, trollboy. In fact, Waters is bright, not a racist, clear-eyed, focused, and one of the people in congress who can and will address “the serious problems that we need to fact and address.” She makes banksters squirm, and that alone makes her a heroine in my book.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      As if I need to point out the republican trolls are following the linguistic pattern that shines like a lime green neon bill board in the Las Vegas desert. Calling Blacks racist is the first sign of a graduate from the Glenn Beck School of Political Bullshitting. Of course, the other sign is the I DON’T VOTE FOR ANYONE ANYMORE, THE WORLD IS JUST TOO MUCH TO BEAR phraseology.

      Mike, you are the cum stain on a two dollar whore’s tube top.

      1. andrew hartman

        my, my, my………this petri dish really gets vile……the
        loyalty to waters is misplaced…..she would be a bankers delight
        because she’s so stupid…..

        1. Christophe

          Alright, if you say she is…… but what I want to know is whether she is stupid enough to grotesquely overuse ellipses……. just asking…..

      1. David

        This is correct, I heard a bank lobbyist being interviewed
        (maybe it was Charlie Rose ?), and he was asked why the banksters were picking on Obama, when Obama has given them so much. The reply was that by picking on Obama, they will get even more. Talk about pushing the Overton window so far that it is over the horizon.

  14. C

    I particularly like the unintended honesty of this statement:

    “She is anti-bank. She doesn’t like anybody that wears a suit and a tie. She yells at them, and says why aren’t you doing more to address the housing problem, why aren’t you doing more to raise the boats of the less fortunate. It is a total misunderstanding of what capitalism is.”

    So the same people who want to be bailed out on the grounds that their success helps all of us or is necessary for all of us now admit that helping people is not “what capitalism is.” As Noam Chomsky once commented the business press is the most honest about business.

  15. Hugo Stiglitz

    “Most of the international banks would start folding their tents” if Ms. Waters were to became chair of the committee, said John Allen James

    I’m confused, is this statement meant as an argument for or against Maxine Waters as chair of banking and finance? My response would be along the lines of ‘do you need help packing?’ or ‘Is that a promise?’

    The best thing that could happen to the Democrats is losing their dependency on money from the parasites and rentiers.

  16. K Ackermann

    “Most of the international banks would start folding their tents”

    If only it were that simple.

    Why, other companies with less influence in Washington would have to step in and fill the void.

    Too big to fail, my ass.

    1. William

      This whole bank issue is a mystery. Most people have no idea what the Federal Reserve is all about. The best book on the subject is G. Edward Griffin’s book: The Creature From Jekyll Island.

      It reviews the history of central banking in America and details how a secret meeting in 1910 led to the creation of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 with the subsequent loss of purchasing power of the dollar ever since of over 95%.

      Another enlightening source can be found at http://www.chrismartenson.com in his Crash Course in which there are charts showing how the real cost of living remained flat for decades and centuries under the gold standard and since its abandonment the real cost of living has soared in our time.

      Only one candidate has awakened us to the need to first Audit the Fed and then drive a stake in its heart.

      He can be seen and heard at the U of RI in Kingston on April 18th from 6PM to 8PM and has a money bomb on April 15th.

      1. Mike M

        Really? I’ve heard this argument from the Paulistas. 95%? Really? I guess that whole twentieth century thing when we ruled the world and climbed to the top of the heap of capitalism was just an illusion. How about that. Yeah, let’s all just go back to the farm and trade grain for gold. Right.

      2. SqueakyRat

        Really, what difference does it make if the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power, if incomes keep up with inflation? All right, if you’ve had a stack of bills hidden under your bed since 1913 then it’s lost most of its value. That just means you’ve been extremely stupid.

  17. polistra

    Waters is obnoxious, annoying and stupid, but if her obnoxiousness leads her to clamp down HARD on banksters, that’s an excellent reason to vote all D this year!

  18. Norman

    Reading these comments, from both sides, well, this is the reason the country’s screwed up. Macho B.S. from those who think like the G.O.P. toward any woman, perhaps even the one they sleep with, sure is on a tear today.

    1. Blunt

      Thank you for noticing that, Norman.

      Yep, the old “she’s stupid” as though the inclusion of a female pronoun was all the proof necessary for the usage. But, just to add the cachet of “proof” to the matter the sleazeballs add that she’s black.

      Neither her womanhood nor her skin color make a lot of difference to me. If she represents the voters in her district and not simply the voters who are corporate people and by doing so winds up representing me and you as well.
      Then does it matter.

      Just for the record: white, blonde, female and able to winnow out the morons from the thinkers.

      Mike and Andrew Hartman take not that not everyone around here is as silly as the two of you. Enjoy that $50/day y’all get paid to troll sites such as this.

      1. pcisbs

        Blunt, why are you addressing points on which you are clueless? Waters is a disgrace. She gets elected by an ill-informed, handout dependent, extremely poor inner-city district. Her job is siphon and redistribute to her friend as many tax dollars she can; while simultaneously attacking Republicans and blaming capitalism for her shortcomings
        Even worse, Water’s hypocrite lunacy has no bounds! She’s tough on banks? Does that include the $100′s of millions in tax dollars, via Obama’s Sham Stimulus, that she gave to the bank where her husband was a board member? Members of Congress take an oath to uphold the Constitution. On numerous occasions, Maxine Waters has publicly stated that she favors socialism over our system. She is not only a duplicitous liar, she is profoundly stupid.

  19. SamAdams25

    Maxine Waters is not only an embarrassment to the US House of Representatives, she is an embarrassment to all Americans.

    Waters, as a member of the “House Progressive Caucus” is also a member of Democratic Socialists of America. As is Charlie Rangel, and almost all other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). These are some of the most corrupt (documented evidence) representatives of the people in government.

    Waters, Jackson-Lee, and other race-hustling 1-of-435 shysters should be ignored by responsible journalists, as they rarely have anything to contribute to society as a whole. They merely try to maintain their own “high on the hog” lifestyles off of American taxpayers by drumming up false claims of racism, and profiting from it.

    There should be a natural sense of shame from such actions, but the left has no sense of shame. Shame on them.

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