by William Skink
Jon Tester is a tool of Wall Street, but progressives in Montana refuse to acknowledge this. Despite tangible evidence of Tester’s tool status, the mighty fear of Republicans continues to be enough to scare spineless progressives in Montana toward supporting Tester’s bid to stay in office.
The recent theatrics Tester engaged in before the tax bill passed got all kinds of attention, but it was an empty gesture—bullshit theatrics from a duplicitous politician seeking re-election. Tester knows who his real constituents are, and they are not your average Montanan. Tester’s support for this misguided deregulation legislation is the proof. Here’s a quote from an Intercept piece:
Four Democrats — Banking Committee members Joe Donnelly, Ind.; Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.; Jon Tester, Mont.; and Mark Warner, Va. — negotiated S.2155 with Republican leaders. In all, 10 Democrats have co-sponsored the bill, giving it enough support to break a Senate filibuster if all Republicans sign on. That makes the deregulatory effort more than theoretical; it’s a real risk to pass.
Democratic staffers on the Banking Committee cite three major problem areas for S.2155. First, despite being pitched as relief for community banks and small lenders who played no role in the financial crisis and got caught up in the regulatory undertow, the bill extends that aid to the big boys. It eliminates automatic enhanced standards, like higher capital requirements and “living wills” that lay out how to unwind the firm in case of trouble, for banks with between $50 and $250 billion in assets. This includes large regional and national players like American Express, SunTrust, and BBT, and foreign megabanks like Barclays and Deutsche Bank, whose holdings in the United States fall within that threshold. These international lenders have been notorious “repeat offenders,” paying tens of billions of dollars in fraud penalties for actions like repossessing the cars of service members while they fought overseas.
In all, the bill removes enhanced supervision from 25 banks that control $3.5 trillion in assets and received $48 billion in taxpayer bailouts, according to an analysis from Public Citizen.
The effort to re-elect Jon Tester is not going to leave much resources for down-ticket races in Montana, just like the effort to keep Bullock in the Governor’s mansion was the all-consuming focus of Montana Democrats in the last election cycle. That means Democrats will continue being a weak minority barely able to fend off the short-term greed and cruelty of Montana Republicans.