Politics & Policy

The Tea Party of the Left Is Back

(Alex Wong/Getty)
Elizabeth Warren was briefly right about something, for the wrong reasons.

The Tea Party of the Left is back.

There are a few new faces — Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) is leading the new charge — and its ire is now focused on campaign-finance laws and Dodd-Frank, not the Iraq War. But the liberal wing of the Democratic party, which took a hiatus during the first few years of the Obama presidency, is back and ready to rumble.

Even the media reports of that era are back. Who can forget that in 2006, dissent was totally patriotic — but once 2009 rolled around, it suddenly became racist. And crazy.

Likewise, the 2013 partial shutdown was blamed on the GOP’s alleged inability to legislate, even though it happened because President Obama decided to violate his own health-care law by giving his big-business buddies special treatment.

This year, the mantra was that Democrats were willing to shut the government down over principle, according to Huffington Post Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim and others.

As with its opposition to the Iraq War, the newly empowered Left took a stand on policy that is sound in the short term but wrong in the bigger picture. In this case, the Left was right to stand against what Right Wing News’s John Hawkins called “the GOP’s sop to the banks on derivatives along with their sleazy attempt to change campaign finance rules to benefit incumbents.”

Unfortunately, their opposition to the specific items that made it into the omnibus bill — which passed both chambers of Congress last week and was signed by President Obama — fails to assess how to prevent another financial crash and how to empower the American people in politics.

Consider, for example, that Warren and her allies, including Democrats Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California, made it a top priority to prevent Wall Street from putting taxpayers at risk via specialized derivatives.

But rather than support the greatest anti-bailout measure in existence — the free market — these liberals wanted the monstrosity that is the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to be unchanged.

Warren has made imposing regulation on banks a top priority since she entered Congress, and last week’s legislative battle is evidence that she will continue to do so. Alas, while she and her allies are right to oppose putting taxpayer dollars at risk so Wall Street can make more cash, their support for Dodd-Frank is misplaced. As the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney has outlined on multiple occasions, Dodd-Frank has been a boon to the banking industry by protecting it from new entrants in the market and making regulatory compliance too expensive for smaller competitors.

Likewise, liberals were outraged over the loosening of campaign-finance regulations in the omnibus. An article at the Huffington Post called the provisions a “Big Hug For Rich Donors,” and Pelosi specifically opposed the provision’s inclusion in the bill.

Once again, they are right to oppose this particular measure, which allowed donors to give large amounts to campaign committees affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties. As Hawkins told me, “rarely do I say this, but the Democrats are 100 percent right to oppose the GOP’s sleazy attempt to slant campaign finance laws to benefit incumbents.”

“The American people voted overwhelmingly for Republicans so they could check Obama, not change campaign finance laws to protect incumbents from groups like MoveOn.org, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund,” said Hawkins.

Unfortunately, being right about the measure in the omnibus does not make the Left correct on campaign-finance laws in general, which expand the power of elected officials and their corporate, individual, and union allies and show preferential treatment for media corporations that regularly engage in political speech but are unaffected by campaign-finance regulations.

It is ironic that Warren, Brown, and the rest want a massively powerful federal government, which by its nature encourages corruption of the public trust. If they really wanted to help the American people have greater representation by elected officials, they would shrink the size of the federal government to fit within the limits of the Constitution.

The Bush-era left is back. Whether it will help or hurt the nation is an open question, but it’s good to see the Democratic party’s leadership’s relationship with Big Business being called out into the open. The liberal Left and its temporary tea-party allies may have failed to stop the omnibus, but the damage they have done to the leadership of both parties is hopefully enough to change the course of the 114th Congress for the better.

— Dustin Siggins is the D.C. correspondent for LifeSiteNews, a former blogger with Tea Party Patriots, and co-author of the forthcoming book Bankrupt Legacy: The Future of the Debt-Paying Generation.

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