More than a year after the gubnernatorial campaign of 2014, we finally have a definitive answer to one of that contest’s questions.
Is Neel Kashkari a tool of Wall Street?
The answer is decidedly no. Yes, Gov. Brown endlessly recycled that talking point, linking Kashkari relentlessly to Wall Street. It was exaggerated then, given Kashkari’s limited experience on the street. But after this week, the charge now seems laughable – discredited by Kashkari’s own words and actions.
Kashkari has moved on – and out of California – to a position as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota. And he made headlines with a speech that could have come out of the mouths of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. The big banks remain too big to fail, and we may need to break them up to avoid future government bailouts.
The speech made headlines. The Wall Street Journal reported that Kashkari, who previously ran the TARP program during 2008, put several options on the table that are anathema to the banks and Wall Street: a breakup of the biggest banks, regulating them like public utilities, or “taxing leverage throughout the financial system to reduce systemic risks wherever they lie.”
This blast from Kashkari isn’t a surprise if you were among the very small number of people paying any attention to the 2014 campaign. Kashkari was conspicuous in his emphasis on poverty during the campaign, and he often seemed to be running to Gov. Brown’s left – where there is a lot of room – on various issues.
A spokesman for the big banks answered Kashkari by arguing that he was in politics. Californians know better—we watched his campaign and know that Kashkari is no politician.