An astute analysis of the fall of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reveals that his brand of politics turned off significant segments of both the right and left. Cantor has been roundly criticized as someone who grew to represent the chamber of commerce and Wall Street rather than his constituents in Virginia's 7th Congressional District. In the process, he raised the ire of both free-market grassroots conservatives and anti-corporate progressives. As we saw, stimulating that bi-partisan brew of activists against him proved lethal at the polls.
Connecticut's 4th District Congressman Jim Himes -- member of the House Financial Services Committee, finance chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and former Goldman Sachs banker -- was asked his view of Cantor's defeat. Himes said Cantor's defeat means the banking industry has "lost somebody who had an innate understanding of their issues. For the broader business community, I think this is a real loss."
Funny, Himes's first thoughts focus on the dangling needs of the banking industry rather than on the basic requirement of his job: Congressmen must remember they are elected to represent the interests of their constituents.
Speculation is that Texas representative Jeb Hensarling, a free-market champion, is interested in replacing Cantor as House Majority Leader. Hensarling is an economic populist who strikes a bit of fear in the banking industry. On the prospect of Hensarling's ascendance, Himes offered the following: "Jeb Hensarling's way of thinking about these things may prevail from now on, and that is not something I think the business community will be all that comfortable with." Again, in bemoaning the loss Wall Street suffered at the hands of populists of both conservative and progressive stripes, Mr. Himes reveals where his sympathies lie -- with the crony corporatist elite he serves so well.
Jim Himes is a corporatist in the mold of Eric Cantor. Within three months of ascending to the finance chair of his party's Congressional campaign committee last spring, he shepherded a Citibank-drafted bill, HR 1256, exempting broad swaths of derivatives from the Dodd-Frank law through the House Financial Services Committee, over the objections of the Treasury Department. Democrat campaign coffers were richly rewarded for the favor. And even the Huffington Post in a feature article about the derivatives exemption expressed its dissatisfaction with what has become of Jim Himes. In just five years, our congressman has firmly ensconced himself in the Washington elite as a corporatist rainmaker, making sure the Democrat Party is well showered with hefty campaign donations in exchange for legislation favored by his true constituents in the chamber of commerce, the hedge funds and the banks -- all at the expense of the free market and the taxpayers.
Like Eric Cantor, he has abandoned us, his constituents, for the greener pastures of Wall Street, K Street and the salons of Washington's well-heeled corporate elites. Mr. Himes is cruising for a reckoning ---let's hope it's this Nov. 4.