GOP contenders take turns bashing Wall Street

GOP contenders take turns bashing Wall Street

Republican presidential candidates are increasingly adopting anti-Wall Street rhetoric, as they assail Democrats’ tactics to rein in big banks and appeal to voters’ distrust of the financial sector.
 
In recent weeks, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared he is "fed up" with Wall Street's antics, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCongress can stop the war on science O'Rourke blogs from road trip: 'Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk' Texas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall MORE (R-Texas) slammed Goldman Sachs and Ohio Gov. John Kasich derided the banking industry as rife with greed.
 
The fiery language comes as the landmark 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law nears its fifth anniversary next month. The Democrat-backed statute, Congress’s response to the 2008 economic crisis, put into place hundreds of new regulations, including new designations for “systemically important” financial institutions.
 
"We have more banks with more concentrated assets in the United States, and the systematic risk is perhaps greater now than it was when the law was signed," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told reporters this month.
 
The observation from Bush, who is expected to jump into the presidential race on Monday, is not unlike remarks made by from bank basher Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships Native American leader asks when US will come to its ‘senses’ after Trump’s ‘racist’ attack against Warren MORE (D-Mass), with both politicians noting that the largest financial institutions have grown in size since Congress passed Dodd-Frank.
 
However, Bush his fellow GOP White House aspirants differ with Democrats like Warren over the nature of the problem.
 
"It's weird," said Tony Fratto, a former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration. "Republican populists are saying that financial regulations protect Wall Street. Democrat populists are saying any changes to financial regulations benefits Wall Street."
 
Fratto, a partner at the D.C.-based business communications firm Hamilton Place Strategies, said that "voters will respond to candidates who have something sensible to say and don't sound like Occupy Wall Street protestors."
 
"We'll see if that candidate emerges," he added.
 
As of late, GOP White House hopefuls have been vying to do just that.
 
Perry, who is running for president, said in a June interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" that he was personally "fed up" with Wall Street.

"I think Americans are fed up — I am — with Wall Street getting treated specially," said Perry, who lost to Romney during the 2012 presidential primary. "There is nothing too big to fail in my opinion, when it comes to big banks, big corporate entities."
 
Cruz, also a candidate, told Bloomberg TV in March that Goldman Sachs "is one of the biggest banks on Wall Street, and my criticism with Washington is they engage in crony capitalism."
 
"They give favors to Wall Street and big businesses,” Cruz said on Bloomberg TV. Cruz's wife Heidi took an unpaid leave of absence from Goldman Sachs, where she worked as a director in Houston, because Cruz announced his candidacy.
 
Kasich said on NBC's "Meet The Press" in April that "there's too much greed" on Wall Street."
 
"I’ll tell you the problem with Wall Street: it is too much about ‘I gotta make money’,” Kasich said on NBC.
 
The rhetoric shows that GOP candidates are looking to tap into the remnants of voter frustration that has lingered since the Great Recession.
 
It also suggests that they are wary of falling victim to the same attacks that helped doom the campaign of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who was dogged for his tenure as an executive at the private equity firm Bain Capital.
 
"There was a sense that Romney never really separated himself from Wall Street,” said Mark Calabria, a former Republican Senate Banking Committee aide.
 
Calabria, who leads the conservative Cato Institution's financial services division, said that the anti-Wall Street rhetoric "depending on how it's done, it's a smart and needed move — especially if one is running against [Hillary] Clinton."
 
Staking out a position critical of Wall Street could help the eventual GOP nominee in a general election contest against Clinton. The Democratic frontrunner has herself been criticized as too close to the financial sector.
 
Some on the left, however, scoff at the notion that bashing Wall Street could give Republicans a political edge over Democrats, who’ve made big banks a top target in recent years.
 
"It's hilarious," laughed Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive Democracy For America, who advocates for Warren's liberal policies.
 
"Republican presidential candidates' anti-Wall Street blubbering is purchased directly from the local Dollar Store."