— Robert Litan has joined a growing fraternity of powerful Democrats who lost jobs because of Elizabeth Warren.
Just a few hours after The Daily 202 broke the news that the Massachusetts senator was taking on the Brookings Institution over industry-financed research produced by Litan, the think tank sought and received his resignation. The veteran of the Clinton administration, who directed Brookings’ Economic Studies Program before becoming a non-resident senior fellow, is listed on the think tank’s web site this morning as a “Former Expert.”
Earlier this year, Warren blocked investment banker Antonio Weiss from becoming the third-ranking official at the Treasury Department. In 2013, Warren’s opposition helped torpedo Larry Summers’ lifelong dream of becoming Federal Reserve chairman—despite the fact he was reportedly promised the job by the White House.
Wall Street types call Warren a lot of nasty things, but demagogue is the most printable.
This episode will only embolden the liberal firebrand, who continues to demand answers about the way that financial services companies peddle their influence by paying think tanks and scholars for research papers that support lobbying goals.
And it could have a chilling effect on scholars who have been perfectly fine letting companies that finance their research review it before publication.
Brookings is as much a pillar of the Democratic establishment as any institution in Washington. That President Strobe Talbott moved so quickly to oust Litan underscores just how terrified D.C. elites from both parties are right now about the rise of pitchfork populism.
And for good reason. This week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 56 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they “feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working to help everyday people get ahead.” That’s 19 percent higher than among Republicans.
Big picture, Warren has more power in the Senate than as a presidential candidate. While beloved by progressives, she’s actually not very talented at retail politicking. She had a tough time beating Scott Brown in Massachusetts in a presidential year. If she had run for president, maybe she’d be Bernie Sanders right now. But maybe Warren would have fizzled, and she certainly would have faced a blizzard of rough opposition research dumps from Clinton World. The senator is much more effective as a crusader for the liberal conscience in Washington. It’s not clear what her long game is. She’s 66. But, right now, Warren’s got as much juice as ever.