There was a nineteenth-century exhortation to the cavalry: do not wait for orders, mount up and ride to the sound of guns. The sound of artillery meant that there was a battle being waged, and the cavalry needed to be in the fight.
I have placed my name on a ballot every two years for two decades because I wanted to be in the defining political fights of our generation. As a state legislator and a member of Congress, I have not sought places of political safety. As a result, I think I have more to show for my time in elective office than I would have if I had served much longer, but heeded the conventional wisdom to avoid controversy.
Serious economists are now arguing that we should not reflexively celebrate “innovation” in the financial sector as we do innovation in the real economy. I was ahead of my time. I said the same thing almost two years ago, and people laughed at me.
Okay, that may have had something to do with how I said it.
When the House debated predatory mortgage lending legislation on November 15, 2007, I responded in an extemporaneous floor speech to Republican arguments that the legislation would throttle innovation in the financial sector, using an example of innovation in the real economy that was within my reach:
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