Bank issue continues to be sticky for Repub candidates


Democrats are pounding two leading Republican candidates in Pennsylvania for their hesitancy to take a direct stand on President Obama's proposed tax on big financial institutions and new regulations on  Wall Street.

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R.,Pa.) has said he needs to see specific legislative language before saying yea or nay on the tax, though he is skeptical that customers would be held harmless by the banks.

"If Gerlach hasn't actually seen the details, shouldn't he begin paying attention when Wall Street is again getting record bonuses and Main Street is struggling?" said Michael Czin, Northeast regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.

Zing. And the Pennsylvania state party is hitting former Rep. Pat Toomey, the GOP's leading Senate candidate and a former Wall Street trader, for much the same thing.

In a PoliticsPa interview published Wednesday, Toomey said there are "significant inadequacies" with the financial regulatory system, but declined to take a position on proposals by the president and Demcorats. He did say the "too big to fail" policy is a mistake.

One of the Democrats' proposals would limit the size and scope of big banks, making it theoretically harder for them to engage in risky loans and trades. Toomey has a strong record in support of free markets and supported deregulating financial institutions while he was in the U.S. House.

Toomey is "running scared from the policy positions he's held throughout his career," said PA Democratic spokesman Patrick McKenna.

The $90 billion TARP tax is designed to recoup bailout money the taxpayers gave to banks, though it would be imposed even on those who have repaid the money. Polls show that the proposal enjoys overwhelming support, and Wall Street generally has a bad odor.

Yet what many Republicans would call the politics of class resentment has a spotty history in American politics. Stay tuned.