August 3rd, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Jeff Merkley in the New Yorker


U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) plays minor—but noteworthy—roles in two back-to-back New Yorker articles this summer dealing with the financial collapse on Wall Street.

First came a July 26 profile of Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve. That piece describes Merkley as one of Volcker's "two closest allies on the Hill" along with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

The Volcker profile focuses on the octogenarian's push for stricter financial regulations in Washington and includes praise for that effort from Merkley:
“He's a respected voice,” Jeff Merkley, who serves on the Senate Banking Committee, said last month. “That comes from his experience inside the system, but also his independence. . . . He wants to see a financial system that will have a robust foundation, and he wants to put the life experience he had to work in that effort.” Merkley went on, “You have Goldman Sachs and others hiring legions of lobbyists to come down here and spin the story so they can keep on doing business as usual. People were asking, ‘How valid is the stuff we are hearing from the big banks on Wall Street?' . . . We needed that type of honest broker, and Volcker filled that role. He would say, ‘No, the banks are wrong about that.' ”

In the following Aug. 2 issue, Merkley makes a second appearance in a political profile, this one about U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is in some ways the political opposite of Volcker. (You need a subscription to the magazine to read its current edition online.) The Schumer profile deals, in part, with Schumer's 2007 call for less regulation on Wall Street. Here's where Merkley comes in:
Jeff Merkley was the speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives and weighing a challenge to the Republican incumbent, Gordon Smith, when Schumer summoned him to Brooklyn in early 2007. ... "Smith's standard operating procedure had been to spend money early, to damage the reputations of the people who ran against him," Merkley said. "Chuck was emphatic. He said anytime I was attacked I had to respond within twenty-four hours. And he was clear that the D.S.C.C. would be there for me financially. They would be there until I could raise the money to respond. And he kept his word to me."

The rest is history.
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