Former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. John Kerry aren't the only Massachusetts politicians who know how to flip-flop.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren rarely goes out of her way to praise a powerful lobbyist on the cusp of scoring a big regulatory rollback... But for Cam Fine, the head of the nation's leading advocacy group for small banks, she made an exception. To mark his retirement last week, the Massachusetts Democrat exalted the blunt Missouri banker-turned-trade-group-CEO as an 'honest broker' who 'worked tirelessly to represent the interests of community banks across the country.' During his decade leading the Independent Community Bankers of America, Fine somehow managed to win the respect of both watchdogs and regulators. He also rattled Wall Street executives in his bid to convince Washington that small, 'Main Street' lenders were worthy of lighter regulation than the global banks that fueled the 2008 financial crisis.
Fine cut deals and took positions that infuriated fellow lobbyists. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon once called him a 'jerk' on national television. Fine stepped down victorious on Saturday, with Congress on the verge of passing a landmark banking bill, S. 2155 (115), that will further enshrine the two-tier regulatory system that he fought to establish.
It's nice to know that maybe Warren hasn't gone full-on socialist, and can identify some provider of financial services that she doesn't want burned at the stake. Except that anyone who knows politics knows this looks more like a shrewd move to send a signal to a whole sector of the economy she loathes that hey, she's not really such a threat and hey, you shouldn't totally freak out about it if she runs for President and wins the Democratic Party's nomination.
The truth is, though, Republicans and financial service providers should remain worried and skeptical, because every day Warren has spent in the Senate, she's inched closer to a standard, box-ticking liberal who never takes a remotely non-stereotypical liberal position on anything, whether it be Planned Parenthood funding, environmentalism, unions, or indeed handing banking services over to the Post Office- and she's never met a financial services provider, other than the Post Office as a pure hypothetical, that she actually seems to truly see value in.
But this is a smart play to start softening up her stiffest opponents' stiffest opposition if she's planning to run in 2020.