TPMCafé, October 20, 2010
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After wrecking the economy and putting themselves at the edge of bankruptcy, the Wall Street gang had a few bad months. But now that profits and bonuses are again at record highs, they are back on the offensive. With their bank accounts overflowing and Congress now officially up for sale following Citizens United, Wall Street is looking to buy the few congressional seats they don't already own.
High on the list is the seat held by Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio. In Wall Street's eyes DeFazio has committed the ultimate sin. He has proposed taxing financial speculation. DeFazio has had the unmitigated gall to suggest that a modest tax on short-term financial transactions might be a good way to finance rebuilding infrastructure and creating jobs. Or, that this sort of tax could be a better way to reduce the deficit than cutting Social Security.
Naturally Wall Street is outraged by such outlandish suggestions. Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of one of the largest Wall Street hedge funds, has spent $300,000 on independent contributions in support of DeFazio's opponent.
DeFazio is a popular 12-term incumbent. He regularly wins re-election by large margins, scooping up 82 percent of the vote in 2008. But enough Wall Street cash coupled with enough misinformation (one letter being circulated claims that DeFazio wants to impose a 1.0 percent tax on every check cashed and every ATM withdrawal) could mean that DeFazio will face real trouble.
Those who don't want to give everything we own to Wall Street should recognize their stake in this race. At the end of the day, politicians must care about getting re-elected. If someone as secure in their seat as DeFazio can be pushed to wall by a rich hedge funder, there will be even fewer members willing to challenge Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in the next session of Congress.
Yes, it can get worse.