As we've previously noted, Maria Cantwell's efforts to bring Wall Street institutions to heel has elicited cheers from such likely quarters as the Huffington Post and Joel Connelly's column. Today it was the Seattle Times' turn to celebrate Cantwell's "relentless pursuit" of the bad guys. On the issue of financial regulation, we're told, "Cantwell is becoming a voice to be reckoned with."
The "startling jab of her finger" recently experienced by a Seattle Times reporter was kept in tight check during this Cantwell speech.
True, the story does not report any instance in which the White House or Congress actually felt the need to "reckon" with Cantwell--by, say, passing one of her proposed bills or otherwise acceding to her demands. But her voice is certainly becoming one to which the media is paying increased attention. The irony is that while she is castigating the federal government for its bailout of the big banks (which she voted against), she is pushing hard for more bailout money for the small ones.Cantwell spent part of last week's Congressional recess in Spokane, where she got more publicity for her efforts to wrest additional bailout money for small community banks. She called community banks "a lifeline for small businesses" and asked President Obama to increase the TARP funds earmarked for the small banks to $50 billion, and make the money available without awaiting Congressional approval.
Of course, those nice community banks got slammed by the real estate downturn just like everyone else. They may not have invested in scary derivatives, but they were clearly lending as if the housing industry would never stop blowing its bubble. Which is why the state has had to come in and take over several local institutions like this one.
Do these community banks somehow "deserve" bailout money more than the big banks--especially when big banks are the ones that do the most lending to small businesses? We're not sure. But we do know that standing up for them goes over better in Spokane.