April 14, 2010

UPDATE: Chris Dodd shot back at Mitch McConnell today for his Luntzification of Financial reform:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) entered a political memo written by GOP strategist Frank Luntz into the official Congressional Record on Wednesday, arguing that it belonged there because Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans were repeating it verbatim in their effort to block Wall Street reform.


Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), both members of the Banking Committee, along with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), went after McConnell at a press event Wednesday afternoon. And Dodd attacked McConnell on the Senate floor earlier Wednesday after the Republican leader repeated his opposition to the reform proposal.

You would think that trying to regulate the financial industry would be something the GOP might want to be involved with, but that would be only possible if they are serious people who want to help govern and protect America. Fat chance. Mitch McConnell went on the floor of Congress and attacked the proposed legislation on the grounds that it supports the 'too big to fail" mentality. McConnell's forget to his his fellow mates that he just had had a meeting with private hedge fund managers and other fat cats from Wall Street. Was he bought off?

Think Progress:

This morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared his opposition to the financial reform bill before the Senate. McConnell claimed to have principled objections to the bill, saying that it “institutionalizes” bailouts of Wall Street and that it would give the Federal Reserve “enhanced emergency lending authority that is far too open to abuse.”

What McConnell did not mention was that, last week, he traveled alongside National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John Cornyn (TX) to New York City for a private meeting with elite hedge fund managers and other Wall Street executives. The purpose of the meeting between the top Republicans and the financial executives was to enlist “Wall Street’s help” in funding Republican campaigns in the fall and killing any tough financial reform:

As a financial reform bill starts to take shape in Washington, two key lawmakers came to New York City last week to explain what it means for Wall Street, and how financial executives might help prevent some of its least market-friendly aspects from becoming law by electing more Republicans, FOX Business Network has learned.

About 25 Wall Street executives, many of them hedge fund managers, sat down for a private meeting Thursday afternoon with two of the most powerful Republican lawmakers in Congress: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and John Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, one of the primary fundraising arms of the Republican Party. [...]

In order to assure [Republican electoral] gains, and add even more, McConnell and Cornyn made it clear they need Wall Street’s help.

Separately, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) met with hedge fund managers this morning and told them that “Democrats’ solution for financial reform consists of two words: government control.” He added, “America will continue to be the home of freedom and the free market; the place where liberty prevails.”

When he says "liberty prevails," he means the rich will stay rich, and they will do everything they can to keep meaningful regulations out of a reform package.

Chris Harris says:

A day after the story broke about McConnell's "private meeting" with Wall Street bigwigs, he stormed onto the Senate floor to spout false attacks on Democratic efforts to hold those bankers accountable. The timing was no coincidence.

Republicans are brazenly playing politics by putting the needs of big banks and credit card companies above struggling American families. Now is the time to hold Wall Street accountable for causing the worst recession in a generation.

True financial regulatory reform would restore fairness to America's banking system, get rid of confusing fine print, and hold Wall Street's bad actors accountable for getting us into this mess.

Andrea Mitchell was laughing at McConnell today on her MSNBC show, saying she had no idea what Mitch was saying.

And as TIME Magazine points out, McConnell sounded almost exactly like Frank Luntz. What a coincidence:

In a floor speech this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the prospects of detente, establishing a hard line of attack against the Dodd bill, and indelibly marking the party line: "We must not pass the financial reform bill that's about to hit the floor."

The crux of his criticism is that the bill "institutionalizes... taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks." He knocked the expansion of power at the Fed and Treasury, while sounding the alarm on Wall Street accountability. If the outline of his speech sounds familiar, it's because it is the exact argument pollster Frank Luntz urged Republicans to make earlier this year in a widely publicized memo. Compare the excerpts below (emphasis mine):

Luntz: "The single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout."

McConnell: "We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks. And that's why we must not pass the financial reform bill that's about to hit the floor."

Luntz: "Taxpayers should not be held responsible for the failure of big business any longer. If a business is going to fail, not matter how big, let it fail."

McConnell: "[The Dodd bill] gives the government a new backdoor mechanism for propping up failing or failed institutions.... We won't solve this problem until the biggest banks are allowed to fail."

Luntz: "Government policies caused the bubble and its ultimate crash. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve, and the Community Reinvestment Act all had a role in the catastrophe. The government inflated economic bubbles with easy credit policies."

McConnell: “It also directs the Fed to oversee 35 to 50 of the biggest firms, replicating on an even larger scale the same distortions that plagued the housing market and helped trigger a massive bubble we'll be suffering from for years. If you thought Fannie and Freddie were dangerous, how about 35 to 50 of them?" Thus begins the wrestling match for the populist mantle, both sides claiming their party as the champion of Main Street. The Democrats response to McConnell (policy-wise) will be that the tax for a "bailout fund" is levied on financial institutions that pose a risk to the system, and that such a measure would help refund taxpayers for the original cost of TARP, as well as avoid the need for Americans to foot the bill in the future. Their political response will be basically the same as McConnell's attack: to paint the opposition as protectors of Wall Street interests and the status quo.

The GOP is certainly getting their money's worth out of Luntz while America is getting short changed as usual.

Video of Chris Dodd on the floor calling out Mitch McConnell.

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