Harry Reid faces what ought to be an easy choice. In January, the Senate majority leader will need to fill two vacant spots on the Senate Banking Committee to replace retiring Democrats. Just by luck, one of the newly elected Democratic senators happens to be a nationally renowned expert on consumer finance, bankruptcy, and the financial industry.
So why is naming Massachusetts Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren to the banking committee even an issue? Heeding the decorum of the Senate, Warren has not publicly said she wants to join the panel, which oversees banks, monetary policy, and other matters. But Wall Street interests hostile to Warren are reportedly lobbying Democrats to keep her off. For many of Warren’s supporters, Reid’s choice is now shaping up as an ideological fight for the soul of the Democratic Party, pitting a populist wing personified by Warren against more Wall Street-friendly Democrats.