Elizabeth Warren Just Invented Legislative Subtweeting

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 4 2013 2:16 PM

Elizabeth Warren Just Invented Legislative Subtweeting

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She wants to know: Who pays think tanks' bills?

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren sent a letter today asking major banks to disclose what money they're giving to D.C. think tanks. Warren vs. the banks is nothing new, but this is actually a kind of amazing innovation in the field of legislative subtweeting.

The context is that Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler of Third Way published a banal and contentless op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week arguing ... something about Elizabeth Warren and how she's bad because a tax-hiking ballot resolution in Colorado didn't pass. There was some more stuff I didn't understand, and then they offered a made-up criticism of "the populists' staunch refusal to address the coming Medicare crisis." That one's particularly odd since one of the two populists they're critiquing was Bill de Blasio, who, as mayor of New York City, has nothing whatsoever to do with Medicare.

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As for Warren, it is simply false—as in, ignorant or dishonest—to say that Democrats have done nothing to reduce Medicare costs or that they have no further proposals to do so.

At any rate, Third Way's board is jam-packed with finance guys from the investment banking and private equity worlds. So the general suspicion in progressive circles is that in these contexts the "think tank" is just acting as a kind of hatchet operation for the financial sector. So Warren wants to smoke them out. And, frankly, the way that Cowan and Kessler managed to simply ignore the role Wall Street plays in the "populist" narrative they're critiquing was just weird. So good for Warren.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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