Republicans and Wall Street

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Rich Lowry takes a whack at the cozy relationship between Wall Street and the Democratic Party:

When President Barack Obama’s vast new regulatory state is completed, Wall Street firms ought to have a competition over the naming rights. Will it be the CitiDeal? Or the Goldman Society? Or the UBS/J.P. Morgan Joint Initiative for the Establishment of a Social Democracy?

….Back in 2006, Democrats began a hard sell on Wall Street led by New York senator Chuck Schumer and then-representative Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff. The basic pitch was that Democrats were taking Congress, and the financial world should get on board — surely delivered with all the bare-knuckled subtlety for which those two are justly renowned.

Lowry’s tone aside, I’d say he’s got a point. (My collection of shots at both parties is here.) The fact is that we’d have a lot easier time reining in Wall Street if it weren’t for the fact that Democrats long ago gave up their populist roots and decided to follow Willy Sutton’s advice. The only difference is that they don’t have to rob banks, they just have to ask them nicely for their money over coffee and scones.

But look: this particular critique would be a lot more meaningful if it were accompanied by some actual ideas about what went wrong with our financial system and what we ought to do to fix it. But Lowry doesn’t even try. He makes a couple of tired references to “unfettered capitalism” and “the unforgiving discipline of the market” toward the end of the column, and that’s about it. But there’s no there there. At some point we need some good ideas too. Unfortunately, conservatives just can’t seem to work up any interest in this subject. Funny that.

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