As anyone who watches Mythbusters can tell you, you really can buff a turd. Why, GOP pollster and messaging strategist Frank Luntz does it on a regular basis! And this time, he's targeted financial regulatory reform.
I wonder what this amoral hack sees when he looks in the mirror - besides the bad wig, I mean:
In addition to tying regulatory reform to a massive government takeover, Luntz's memo includes several other data points and messaging suggestions as a blue print for the legislation's defeat. Opponents, he writes, would be well served to link the package to the financial industry bailout (which, it should be noted, is fundamentally not part of the legislation). According to accompanying polling data, 52 percent of voters said they would be "much less likely" to vote for their member of Congress if they voted for a financial reform bill that contained a fund to bail out banks and Wall Street.
"Public outrage about the bailout of banks and Wall Street is a simmering time bomb set to go off on Election Day," Luntz wrote. "Frankly, the single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout."
Another effective strategy to kill the bill, according to Luntz, is to make the case that it was written in secret by lobbyists.
"The American people are tired of add-ons, earmarks, and backroom deals - but they are mad as hell at 'lobbyist loopholes,'" Luntz wrote. "You must put proponents of the legislation on the defense, forcing them to attempt to justify the 'lobbyist loopholes' and exemptions placed in the bill... Highlight the exemptions. Broadcast them. Remind them, 'The legislation is filled with lobbyist loopholes that exclude certain wealthy, powerful industries from regulations.'"
On the specific issue of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Luntz argued that opponents should stress the high-cost of creating an additional regulatory body in addition to the damaging effects it will supposedly have on "small business owners" (as opposed to, merely, small businesses).
"Owning a small business is part of the American Dream and Congress should make it easier to be an entrepreneur," wrote Luntz. "But the Financial Reform bill and the creation of the CFPA makes it harder to be a small business owner because it will choke off credit options to small business owners."
These lines or arguments are similar to the ones used by regulatory reform opponents in the past, often with some success. What's telling is that they are being trotted out again in this type of economic environment.