It was only after the sharp rightward swing of the Republican Party begat by the rise of the Tea Party that partisanship began to prevent interparty cooperation on the basic needs of governance. The impact of the Tea Party is irrefutably demonstrated by the events of 2008, a time when the world faced economic catastrophe. Throughout that year, the Democrats who controlled Congress repeatedly responded favorably to pleas for help from the Bush administration in coping with serious—and eventually grave—economic problems.
The year began with President George W. Bush asking Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a stimulus—obviously not yet a Republican swear word—to bolster a flagging economy. They enacted one.
That spring, Sen. Chris Dodd and I worked with Bush’s Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, to give Paulson the authority he wanted over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—we had adopted a version of the bill in the House in 2007. And as chair of the Financial Services Committee I angered some of my very conservative Republican committee colleagues (not something, to be honest, that it was hard to do) by refusing to hold hearings during which they could attack Bush appointees Paulson and Ben Bernanke for their actions regarding Bear Stearns.
The year ended with the Democrats working in harmony with the Bush administration to adopt the Troubled Asset Relief Program—a bill that passed over the loud objections of a majority of House Republicans.