A shocking new poll shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa, the first caucus state, and in New Hampshire, the first primary state. The YouGov poll, paid for by Moveon.org, found Warren ahead of Clinton in Iowa, 31 percent to 24 percent, among likely Democratic primary and caucus voters. In New Hampshire, Warren’s lead was 30 percent to 27 percent.
Other polls, however, show Clinton enjoying a substantial lead. This poll is an outlier, and the upstart 15-year-old polling firm gathers its data via the Internet, using complex methodology and algorithms. Some of their polls in recent years have been astonishingly accurate, even beating out the traditional big polling firms.
YouGov pollsters conclude: “The results show that, after likely caucus goers and primary voters learn about Elizabeth Warren’s biography and issue positions, not only do a stunning 79 percent say they want her to run, but, in both states, Warren ends up leading all other potential Democratic candidates in a head-to-head ballot question.”
What’s the appeal of Warren?
Her primary cause is her belief that investment firms and lending institutions need much more oversight. Specifically, Warren blames the Wall Street meltdown on the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the Great Depression-era law that prevented commercial banks from engaging in traditional banking and vice versa. Glass-Steagall’s repeal, argues Warren, is the primary reason for the Wall Street shenanigans she claims led to 2007-08’s housing and stock market crashes.
In making this argument, Warren supports the majority conclusion of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that Congress assembled to come up with the reasons for the crash. The commission consisted of six Democrats and four Republicans. The Democrats on the commission blamed Wall Street greed and traced the decline to a lack of regulations. But the Republicans took a very different view. They argued that the housing meltdown occurred after years of government-led policy that encouraged and pressured banks to lend to so-called “under represented” borrowers.
Three of the four Republicans wrote: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not by themselves cause the crisis, but they contributed significantly in a number of ways.” The dissent of the fourth Republican also talked about impact of the Community Reinvestment Act and its 1995 revisions: “Although there were many contributing factors, the housing bubble of 1997-2007 would not have reached its dizzying heights or lasted as long, nor would the financial crisis of 2008 have ensued, but for the role played by the housing policies of the U.S. government over the course of two administrations.” Nothing to do with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and everything to do with bad government policies that encourage — and this Act really encourages — the irresponsible acquisition of real estate.
The repeal of Glass-Steagall did, indeed, allow for the existence of an organization like CitiGroup. But it was the investment firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers that led the crash. Again, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were investment firms — that stayed in their lane.
By making the Glass-Steagall argument, Warren directly contradicts Bill Clinton, who still stands by his decision to sign the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed much of Glass-Steagall. The bill passed by 90 to 8 in the Senate and 362 to 57 in the House. In the unlikely event the president vetoed the bill, Congress had more than enough votes to override. But Clinton didn’t veto it. He stands by his decision. The Hill, the publication that covers Congress, wrote a piece last year with this headline: “Bill Clinton Fires Back at Critics of His Financial Regulatory Policies”: “Some progressives have blamed Clinton’s 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era law that separated investment and commercial banking, as one of the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. Clinton said that none of the financial institutions that failed during the financial crisis crashed because of Glass-Steagall’s repeal. ‘Not one.'”
A 2012 Forbes piece called, “Why the Glass-Steagall Myth Persists,” supports Clinton’s analysis: “By far, the single most cited example of this financial ‘deregulation’ is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which partially repealed the Glass-Steagall Act 13 years ago today. Regulatory evangelists including Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz and recent senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, not to mention the Occupy Wall Street protesters, have named the overthrow of Glass-Steagall as public enemy number one. …
“There is zero evidence GLBA unleashed the financial crisis. If you tally the institutions that ran into severe problems in 2008-09, the list includes Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, none of which would have come under Glass-Steagall’s restrictions. Even President Obama has recently acknowledged that ‘there is not evidence that having Glass-Steagall in place would somehow change the dynamic.'”
The hyperleft Warren is considered a “fresh face,” which presumably refers to her comparatively shorter time in the public light. But she’s just two years younger than Hillary Clinton. And just how far left — and unelectable — is the senator from Massachusetts? Warren makes Barack Obama look like Ronald Reagan.
Run, Warren, run!
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.