Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank (D-Ma.) announced his retirement this week after 32 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca.) is first in line to take his powerful seat as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. But Waters potential ascent isn’t without controversy. Here’s a roundup of the criticism so far:
Ethics Violations Will Sink Her
The biggest threat to Waters’ elevation is an ethics investigation into whether or not she abused her power to acquire federal bail-out money for a bank in which her husband had a financial interest.
“Waters’ husband was a former board member of the bank and held more than $300,000 in stock,” ABC News reported. “A trial scheduled for last November was postponed indefinitely and the investigation effectively reset after two lawyers on the ethics committee resigned following allegations they secretly communicated with Republicans on the panel and compromised the investigation. Outside counsel was then hired to determine whether the case against Waters should proceed. That report is due on Jan. 2,” the article said.
Criticism of the President Will Do Her In
“Waters made waves this year when she publicly criticized President Barack Obama,” Roll Call reported. Next in line after her is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and she “played a key role in addressing the financial crisis of 2008,” the article said. But Waters has backing from the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
“I resent any attempt by the financial services industry to prejudge Maxine Waters with no legitimate reason. I think that’s stupid,” CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) told Roll Call. “They can’t say, ‘Well she doesn’t know the issues.’”
She Doesn’t Have the Financial Chops for the Job
However, that’s exactly what Atlantic economics blogger Megan McArdle said in response to the possibility that Waters could replace Frank.
After summarizing a televised exchange between Waters and former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, in which Waters flubbed her question, McArdle concluded that the exchange was “kind of hilarious, until you realized that this was her job, and that she voted on critical financial regulatory questions.” It wasn’t the only instance, McArdle said, of Waters’ revealing scant knowledge of finance.
“Every time I see Maxine Waters at a hearing I know that the questions are going to be bizarre, and that Congresswoman Waters will make them even stranger with garbled readings and off-topic follow-ups,” said McArdle.
She’s a Bomb Thrower from the Far Left
Meanwhile, The Hill reported that “Wall Street executives are bracing for the possibility” that Waters will take the top spot. The outlet said Waters is “considered to the left of Frank on financial and housing issues.”
“She’s not a good face of the issues,” an anonymous financial executive told The Hill. “She’s too much of a bomb thrower.”
She’ll Slow Growth by Injecting Affirmative Action into Business
At Intervestors.com, the editorial board took Waters to task for “injecting affirmative-action decision-making in financial transactions, slowing the flow of capital and economic growth.”
How, you ask, did she do that?
“As a key member of the Dodd-Frank conference committee, Waters authored the ‘practical’ rule of requiring every bank regulatory agency to create an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion,” the editorial said.
It’s Time to Pass the Baton
“With decades in Congress comes more cynicism and opportunities for political shenanigans that can lead to ethics charges,” wrote Zerlina Maxwell at The Grio in a call to reconsider support for aging CBC members like Waters. “It’s not about whether we like the seasoned members of the CBC who have worked tirelessly for a generation; it might just be that it’s time for new ideas and a new perspective on political power representing the African-American community in Congress.”
What Do You Think?
Has Waters earned the right to chair the House Financial Services Committee, or will her perceived weaknesses sink her?