Frank thinks better regulation will get done. He's a great common sense explainer of these matters and he assures us:
I'm instinctively skeptical, but let's hope he's right.
Frank discounts the raw power of the Wall Street mega-investment banks to block regulation, but he points to the influence of forces that he claims Congresscritters do listen to:
I was more than a little taken aback by this assertion.
Is it true? Is Frank expressing a regional perception? -- that is, are there Congressional districts where the local bankers, the local Chamber of Commerce guys, are the core of the political class around which all politics orbits? Perhaps in older suburbs and some rural areas? Or is this idea that local and regional elites matter so much to Congresspeople just a convenient pseudo-democratic (small "d") cultural myth -- something we believe is part of our political culture but which actually doesn't exist?
Where campaigns cost a lot, certainly at the Senate and Presidential level, the really big money from really large interests like multi-national investment banks must be more important than money that local notables can kick in.
But in many Congressional districts, regardless of location, really the only contests that matter are the intra-Party succession contests. Once a Congressperson in these districts is in place, in a safe seat, s/he usually benefits from local political class contributions for the duration of incumbency, regardless of party. In return, the local Congressperson probably listens to the local power brokers most of the time. S/he also meets them at the same public gatherings, sends her children to the same (probably private) schools, and socializes with them. So certainly local bankers have influence in those contexts.
The independent entrepreneur who makes it big, from Horatio Alger through Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in their Silicon Valley garage, is a staple of the national myth. There aren't a lot that make a big killing, but most localities have some example of a local success story. So is the local business person who stands out in a community -- even if the "community" is a bedroom exurb to a city, lacking much tradition and any physical center apart from several freeway interchanges -- that "responsible and thoughtful citizen" that Barney Frank is pointing to? It's a little hard to believe in the "clout" of such people.
Meanwhile, it's pretty clear which financial leaders think they ought to have more clout. The Washington Post recently reported that Democrats find themselves hurting for political cash. (Via TAPPED.)
Reports like this make it hard to credit Barney Frank's description of who is important to Congresspeople.