In the shifting alliances that are characteristic of politics, the presumed closeness of Republicans and Wall Street may be increasingly tested.
The notion of these political bedfellows was probably always more myth than reality. After all, Wall Street stiffed Republican John McCain, heavily supporting President Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Big Finance switched sides in 2012, losing its bet on Mitt Romney.
Also, Republican financial ties to Wall Street did not always match conservative ideological opposition to government support, via bailouts, of large financial institutions.
And similarly, populist liberals assailing large banks has often been at odds with Democratic support for regulations, such as the Dodd-Frank Act, which critics have argued have the effect of ensconcing the largest banks in their dominant position.
Exhibit A for the changing relationship between Wall Street and Republicans is Jeb Hensarling’s assuming the chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee.
The conservative Texan lawmaker is on record as supporting increased capital requirements for large financial institutions, something that liberal foes of Wall Street like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have long supported. But, then again, Brown’s principal ally in boosting bank capital ratios has been Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).
Exhibit B in this changing relationship is a Washington Post column published in February by conservative columnist George Will urging conservatives to enthusiastically support “relentlessly liberal” Sherrod Brown. Writes Will:
“By breaking up the biggest banks, conservatives will not be putting asunder what the free market has joined together. Government nurtured these behemoths by weaving an improvident safety net and by practicing crony capitalism.”