Those who look beyond the presidential polls this year are seeing regular predictions that Democrats stand a good chance of retaking control of the Senate and of reducing the margin that Republicans hold in the House.
There are even some Democrats who have gone farther with that wishful thinking, talking about a sweeping victory that will give them control of both houses of Congress in the coming year. While that is a mathematical possibility, it is not very high on anybody’s list of probable outcomes.
Those who think about chances of a Democratic sweep, whether it fulfills their dreams or ratifies their nightmares, assume that House Democrats will rally behind their president. As we saw last week, however, in this House there are Democrats and then there are Democrats, some of whom are confused about which constituents they are supposed to be serving.
One of them is local, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring. His reputation and voting record put him in the middle of the House on the ideological spectrum, often voting with his Republican colleagues. And he was in that crowd once again last week when the House took up something called the “Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016.”
It passed 261 to 145 with three Republicans opposed and 35 Democrats, including Maloney, in favor. The bill is one of those complex pieces of legislation that yields itself to differing interpretations depending on the analyst's point of view.
A trade group representing those who make their living through investments, the American Investment Council, called the changes contained in the legislation “common-sense, thoughtful modifications” which “show a commitment to improving the regulatory structure for private funds.”
But as we learn over and over again in Washington, one person’s common sense is another person’s nonsense. Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, warned that “profit-driven private equity firms are increasingly investing in emergency services companies and the mortgage market, which has led to slower reaction times for emergency services, aggressive mortgage collection practices and the same sort of foreclosure abuses that we witnessed before the financial crisis.”
In other words, this is just the latest attempt to chip away at the protections under the Dodd-Frank laws which were passed to help prevent such crises.
And Republicans in the House do not want to stop there. Bills to further weaken protection for consumers are making their way through committees.
Why would Maloney want to get rid of these safeguards, voting in such a way that national observers made a special effort to point out his vote?
All you have to do is look at the success he has had raising funds for his re-election campaign and the fact that individuals from firms who deal with securities and investments, along with lawyers and law firms, continue to be his top donors.
Maloney might live in Cold Spring and represent the Hudson Valley on many issues. But when it comes to money and investments, he has been and still is the member from Wall Street, the one brokers and bankers and lawyers can always rely on.