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Vitter And Brown: A Senate Bromance

Our very own Sinator, “Diapers” David Vitter has got a new crusade in the Senate with a very unlikely partner. Vitter, whose knack for picking unique and animating policy positions have sustained him throughout his darkest, most serious sins, is teaming up with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio to tackle “too-big-to-fail” banks. If you aren’t aware, Brown is a committed progressive who was reelected this past year in a hotly-contested race in Ohio. Brown’s win was decisive and impressive, especially considering the amount of conservative money spent against him. Over $40m flowed into Ohio from tea party groups focused on dethroning the liberal firebrand. Ohio’s battleground status is well-earned, and Brown’s progressive politics don’t define the entirety of the diverse state, making his easy win that much more impressive.

This is all said to describe how strange it is that David Vitter, no doubt a hard-right conservative, has joined hands with a committed progressive like Brown to take on an issue that truly joins the “occupy” and “tea party” politics: the evil of Big Banks.

This strain of populism is not difficult to recognize as a commonality between these two men. Yet, considering the GOP extremism these days, it’s almost shocking to see a committed conservative with future electoral hopes dare to work with a “known” progressive. Yet that’s where we are:

Now, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with unlikely ally Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), is launching an effort to break up the taxpayer-funded party on Wall Street.

“The best example is that 18 years ago, the largest six banks’ combined assets were 16 percent of GDP. Today they’re 64-65 percent of GDP,” Brown said. “So the large banks are getting bigger and bigger, partly because of the financial crisis, partly because of the advantages they have.”

Brown and Vitter announced on Thursday that they were working together on bipartisan legislation to address this problem.

I think the fact that Sen. Brown and I are both here on the floor echoing each other’s concerns, virtually repeating each other’s arguments, is pretty significant,” Vitter said Thursday in his Senate floor remarks. “I don’t know if we quite define the political spectrum of the United States Senate, but we come pretty darned close. And yet, we absolutely agree about this threat.”

In his floor remarks, Brown underscored the urgency — and the challenge — in breaking up the biggest banks.

“Just about the only people who will not benefit from reining in the megabanks are a few Wall Street executives,” he said.

Much can be said about Vitter’s other, simply awful and base political positions. But on this particular issue, he makes the right move. Vitter’s contrarian instincts here serve him well.

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