What does David Brat, the Tea Party's new star, have in common with Elizabeth Warren, the Occupy Wall Street senator from Massachusetts? They both understand that America is still traumatized and angry over the 2008 financial crisis.
Mainstream pols in Brat's party, take note.
Last week, Brat, an economics professor, came out of nowhere to thrash Eric Cantor, the House GOP's No. 2 guy, in a Virginia primary.
People say Cantor lost because he wanted to legalize some illegal immigrants — or because people are tired of business as usual, including the Cantor campaign's nearly $200,000 worth of steak dinners.
OK, but Brat won on another issue, too: ending what he calls “crony capitalism” for the financial industry.
“Eric voted to bail out the big Wall Street banks in 2008,” Brat reminded voters on his Web site. “It is no coincidence that the same banks that received TARP bailout funds are also some of Cantor's largest donors.”
On Brat's “issues” list, bashing Cantor for his TARP vote comes ahead of bashing Cantor for supporting “illegal immigration amnesty” and “fully fund[ing] ObamaCare.”
Brat was even more explicit in speeches. “All the investment banks in New York and DC — those guys should have gone to jail,” he told a crowd last month, according to the Financial Times. “Instead of going to jail, they went on Eric's Rolodex.”
Then, there was the STOCK Act, which outlawed pols' insider trading. Nobody paid attention to this 2012 bill, except, apparently, voters. “Eric Cantor added an amendment to the bipartisan STOCK Act [that] allows family members of congressmen to get rich from insider trading,” one Brat supporter wrote in a letter to The Virginia Free Citizen three weeks before Election Day.
“And he voted to bail out the big Wall Street banks,” she added.
That Brat was able to use Cantor's support of Wall Street to propel himself to victory highlights a dilemma for GOP pols.
It was a Republican president who signed into law the biggest bailout in American history — yet most Republicans still don't want to talk about it. They criticize Obama for criticizing the bankers — and think that somehow helps them.
Yes, they're right to bash Obama's flawed Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law: It didn't end too big to fail, as top Obama administration officials have admitted to Congress.
But mainstream GOP contenders don't ever come out and say: People are correct to be upset that the bankers who helped cause the 2008 crisis continue to do just fine, even if they got fired — while regular people struggle with a burden of mortgage and student-loan debt even if they didn't lose their jobs.
It should be a key part of Republican speeches to acknowledge how badly the financial industry failed on Republicans' watch — and to vow to hold Wall Street accountable to free-market forces as well as to the justice system.
But in the 2012 presidential primaries, only Rick Santorum brought it up.
Republicans seem to hope that, as time passes, people will blame Obama and the Democrats, not the Republicans, for the 2008 mess and its hangover.
Maybe, but it's taking a long time. In April, The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll asked voters what's to blame for “current economic conditions” — “Obama's policies” or a “situation Obama inherited.” Five-plus years into this presidency, 47 percent still blamed Obama's predecessor. Only 39 percent blame Obama.
Yes, Obama's economic policies have ranged from ineffectual to harmful.But the country's biggest economic challenge over the past half-decade has been paying off the private-sector debt incurred over the previous decade. Household debt doubled between 2000 and 2008, to nearly $14 trillion.
People get that there was never going to be a good way out of this mess, which is why blaming Obama still doesn't fly.
A mainstream Republican who embraces fixing Wall Street — and openly admits the GOP's past failures — would arm him- or herself well against one potential opponent: Hillary Clinton.
Clinton showed her own tune-deafness last week, saying that she and Bill came out of the White House “dead broke.” Of course, donations from the world's bailed-out top 1 percent allowed the Clintons to climb from poverty into private jets.
Brat's free-market purism isn't the answer for the entire GOP (he's against Medicare prescription drugs, among other things). But the party needs to learn from his victory: Republicans can't be apologists for Wall Street's failings if they want to run a credible national race in two years.
Original Source: http://nypost.com/2014/06/16/brats-win-teaches-the-gop-lessons/