Ocasio-Cortez ready to start ‘digging into’ banks as member of powerful committee

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is almost certain now to be seated on a powerful committee that will oversee Wall Street and the rest of the banking industry.

The firebrand New York Democrat needs just a rubber stamp vote to get named to the House Financial Services Committee, according to a Bloomberg report citing sources familiar with the matter. The report indicated that the move is almost certain after getting a recommendation from a steering panel.

Addressing the situation on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez herself acknowledged the appointment, saying she is “looking forward to digging into” various finance-related issues such as student loans and postal banking.

Postal banking likely will become a significant issue in the days ahead and particularly once the campaign heats up for the Democratic presidential nomination that will be decided in 2020.

Progressives have been voicing support for a plan in which the U.S. Postal Service would provide multiple banking services, like small-dollar loans and check cashing. Payday lenders have been targeted in the movement for charging what can be exorbitant interest rates on short-term financing.

Ocasio-Cortez is seen as a likely ally for new Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has vowed that the deregulation climate in place during the first two years of the Trump administration will come to an end.

The White House’s forays into banking have been largely aimed at making things easier for community and regional institutions, many of which were under the same regulatory burdens as the big Wall Street banks that helped drive the financial crisis that exploded in 2008.

Ocasio-Cortez in the past has talked about breaking up big Wall Street banks. Recently she also spoke of instituting a 70 percent marginal tax rate on individual income above $10 million to pay for her aggressive social agenda.

Overall, her presence on the committee means “both internal and external pressure to ensure a distinctly progressive focus on the committee,” Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research, said in a note.

However, the Democrats’ narrow majority in the House and Republican control of the Senate make the enactment of legislation unlikely, Boltanksy added.

“Ultimately, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will drive headlines and interest in financial services issues, but our fundamental expectations for the House Financial Services Committee are unchanged as there will be a torrent of headlines and hearings, but there is no viable path to passage for legislation of consequence in this Congress,” he said.