Noted by nobody except the staff of the Committee on House Administration and bearing not a word of mention in the Congressional Record, the Congressional Financial Markets Caucus slipped into existence as an official Congressional Member Organization (or CMO) on March 11, 2009. What do its co-chairs, conservative Democrat Jim Marshall and even more conservative Republican Mike Conaway, have in mind for the group?
Considering the history of caucuses in the House of Representatives, there are two likely possibilities. The first is that this is a Potemkin facade, erected to create the appearance of leadership on the issue of the financial markets at a time when financial markets are in turmoil. Neither Marshall nor Conaway sit on the House Financial Services Committee, so the formation of an caucus might lend the two a bit of the limelight…
… but then, if it was limelight that Marshall and Conaway sought, wouldn’t you expect at the very least a press release and some remarks in a speech on the floor of the House? The utter silence with which the Congressional Financial Markets Caucus has entered into being suggests either a poor sense of public relations or a stealth maneuver. Although the leadership of the Congressional Financial Markets Caucus is literally bipartisan, it is not fully representative of the breadth of policy interest in the markets. Jim Marshall is developing a reputation as (D-Corporate at Large), and as you can see here Mike Conaway has never left his allegiance much in doubt. You could say that when Conaway got to Washington he became interested in corporate relationships without DeLay, but actually he went with DeLay 98% of the time.
My suspicion, then, is that under the misleading banner of bipartisanship the Congressional Financial Markets Caucus is organizing itself as a kind of second center for policy formation regarding the financial markets. If I had to guess, we’ll see its members (if they ever are identified) emerging as consistent opponents of financial market regulation.
Watch, wait and see.