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Tilting at Windmills

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April 16, 2010

CALLING OUT MCCONNELL.... When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made the laughable argument that the Wall Street reform legislation would "institutionalize" bailouts, there was one key upside: he was lying well in advance of Paul Krugman's next deadline.

The NYT columnist doesn't disappoint, labeling the Republican's nonsensical rhetoric "shameless."

...Mr. McConnell is pretending to stand up for taxpayers against Wall Street while in fact doing just the opposite. In recent weeks, he and other Republican leaders have held meetings with Wall Street executives and lobbyists, in which the G.O.P. and the financial industry have sought to coordinate their political strategy.

And let me assure you, Wall Street isn't lobbying to prevent future bank bailouts. If anything, it's trying to ensure that there will be more bailouts. By depriving regulators of the tools they need to seize failing financial firms, financial lobbyists increase the chances that when the next crisis strikes, taxpayers will end up paying a ransom to stockholders and executives as the price of avoiding collapse.

Even more important, however, the financial industry wants to avoid serious regulation; it wants to be left free to engage in the same behavior that created this crisis. It's worth remembering that between the 1930s and the 1980s, there weren't any really big financial bailouts, because strong regulation kept most banks out of trouble. It was only with Reagan-era deregulation that big bank disasters re-emerged. In fact, relative to the size of the economy, the taxpayer costs of the savings and loan disaster, which unfolded in the Reagan years, were much higher than anything likely to happen under President Obama.

Even for Senate Republicans, this is an ugly scam -- McConnell rushes off to New York for a private, behind-closed-doors meeting with hedge fund managers and other Wall Street elites, and he returns to the Hill to kill the legislation that would bring some accountability to the same industry whose recklessness nearly destroyed the global financial system.

CNBC's John Harwood explained this week that McConnell's anti-reform argument is "a little silly when you look at the text of the bill."

And with that in mind, the White House is encouraging people to look at the text of the bill.

As Krugman concluded, "So don't be fooled. When Mitch McConnell denounces big bank bailouts, what he's really trying to do is give the bankers everything they want."

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

On the plus side, the SEC has charged Goldman Sachs with civil fraud.

Posted by: CatStaff on April 16, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

A Republican PRETENDING to stand up for me is a heck of a lot better than any liberal who actually IS standing up for me!

Take back America, no Muslims, no taxes, lower the deficit, blah blah blah...

Signed,
Your average teabagger

Posted by: * on April 16, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

On various threads, I've noticed that the wingnut talking point on this is that Wall Street gives tons of money to Democrats, not Republicans.

This seems pretty unlikely, though I don't doubt the Dems get their share. Is there any way to check this/

Posted by: SqueakyRat on April 16, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

The question that everyone needs to ask McConnell:

How much money have your corporate johns promised you for killing Wall Street reform?


Posted by: SteveT on April 16, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

McConnell rushes off to New York for a private, behind-closed-doors meeting with hedge fund managers and other Wall Street elites

Behind closed doors? I'm shocked, truly shocked.

This seems pretty unlikely, though I don't doubt the Dems get their share. Is there any way to check this/

Can you give a link, otherwise I can try to explain.

I use the FEC.gov website. Opensecret is another website to use, but it is misleading to some who are reading impaired. Opensecret has to use the FEC website, because there is no other source for campaign contributions. What they do is find a particular employer, say in banking, perhaps Goldman Sachs. They then find all individual and PAC donors who identify themselves as being employed by or asscociated with GS. They then total all donations and say "GS donated $XXXX to candidate Y". I saw this when AIG was in the forefront and they tied Obama and many more to AIG simply by misleading and not understanding that the donations came from individuals employed by AIG. Opensecrets does have the disclaimer that the donations are from individuals or pacs, but the reading impaired do not see that or they purposely know it but still post the info to the other reading impaired.

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 16, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wall Street gives tons of money to Democrats, not Republicans

First of all, there is no single entity called "Wall Street," so how you choose to define that term is going to affect your definition -- whether you mean banking lobbying interests, political contributions from individuals, etc., etc.

Secondly, it makes a big difference whether or not you include contributions to individual politicians, parties, partisan PACs, or direct spending, etc.

Third of all, "Wall Street" gives tons of money to everyone. It covers all its bases. The majority party is likely to get more by certain measures, if only because it has more elected officials and more power. The chair of the banking committee is always going to be getting donations, regardless of party.

But there's a lot of ways to measure how Wall Street's money gets divvied up, and there's no doubt that Republicans are getting a lot of very targeted donations right now from entities attempting to influence specific policy-making.

Posted by: Jon on April 16, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

In a previous post, Steven wrote the two words that define what Mitch McConnel is doing. He is simply pathologically dishonest. He lies and distorts with such ease. His hypocrisy is just breathtaking.

I am thrilled to see the push back from the Democrats. They should be relentless and keep at it because the American people are with them on financial regulatory reform.

However, I still want to know when will we reach a tipping point with Republican lies and obstruction. When will they lose all credibility? How can this government function when the Republican Party won't allow President Obama to govern?

Bill Maher had it right, the Republicans are just sore losers. When they are not in power they lose their minds. They are like petulant children. It's a sight to see.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on April 16, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

This is an excellent column, clearly and pursuasively showing why McConnell is wrong and where the bill helps to prevent future bailouts.

So what I wonder is, will this be Krugman's tone going forward, or are we going to see-- like his posts a few weeks ago seemed to presage-- a repeat of his coverage on the Stimulus/bailouts insisting whatever the Democrats are doing goes only half as far enough, isn't enough, won't work, won't work, and let's repeat that until a year later we're suddenly finding ourselves trying to explain to the Republicans that whatever the Democrats did a year ago actually did work, even though we said at the time it wouldn't...

Incidentally I liked the last line of the column:

"David Brooks is off today"

...you don't say

Posted by: mcc on April 16, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I've noticed that the wingnut talking point on this is that Wall Street gives tons of money to Democrats, not Republicans.

As with all things Republican; up = down, regulation = bailout, Democrat = Wall Street, etc on into infinity.

Identify the scariest boogie man, jump and shout.....and the rabble just nod along with blank stares on their faces and fear in their eyes.

Posted by: oh my on April 16, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Krugman "calls out" the Republicans - he has been doing that forever... great reading for us (liberals who read "the conscience of a liberal" blog.)

But the huge news is that CNBC's John Harwood saying McConnell was being a "little silly".

When a beltway bobblehead like Harwood says the Republican leadership is saying "silly" things, without doing the perfunctory "Democrats are silly too", then WE HAVE TURNED A CORNER in the debate...

Posted by: Ohioan on April 16, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

netsowntown, you're really wasting time and money (time=money) posting your stuff here. Even if it stayed up for more than 2 minutes, there isn't a soul on this blog dumb enough to buy anything from you.

Posted by: JTK on April 16, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

McConnell was like Babe Ruth when he pointed his bat at the centerfield wall just before he hit his homerun over it.

All of us saw McConnell's deception coming for months, ever since the Frank Luntz memo got leaked that showed the depths of GOP mendacity. Many of us wrote about it at the time and the sheer cynicism of trying to argue that bank regulations are really bank bailouts because the public hates banks and bailouts.

I am not sure what is worse. The fact that McConnell lied, or the fact that he knew we knew he lied because we've had the music he's singing from for months. This only shows how captive a Fox News media audience the right wing really thinks it has.

Posted by: Ted Frier on April 16, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bonus: "Brooks is off today"

Posted by: Ravi J on April 16, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I, again, direct your attention to McConnell's and Elaine Chou's(his wife and former SofLabor) relationship to Massey Energy and CEO Blankenship. I think it is important to expose all such relationships of all sitting Congresspeople. The money being paid by lobbyists is, pure and simple, bribery. If votes are swayed by the amount and source of compaign financing, without regard to the welfare of constituents, then it is corruption. Some may lose their positions in Congress for lack of campaign funds from taking a principled position on an issue. Well, lots of people have lost their jobs because they did not have the support of their local congresspeople to protect them from corporate greed.

Watch Capitalism, A Love Story.

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on April 16, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, lots of people have lost their [strike] jobs [/strike] lives because they did not have the support of their local congresspeople to protect them from corporate greed.

Fixed it for ya ... (see Coal Mines, W.Va)

Posted by: G.Kerby on April 16, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing to me that McConnell and his ilk have any credibility left with anyone. Every reference to their statements should include a smirk and eye roll. "Get this, here's McConnell's latest . . . "

Posted by: Jon on April 16, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"And with that in mind, the White House is encouraging people to look at the text of the bill."

Sure. Just like they did with the health care bill. That's the problem with the Democrats. They expect people to take the time to actually learn the facts. The GOP knows that the facts don't matter; what matters is public perception, which is driven by simple messages repeated over and over. I hope the White House and the Democrats can come up with something a little better than, "Go read the bill."

Posted by: ameshall on April 16, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Is lying to Congress punishable by any kind of censure? If I lie on my tax return, I can be held legally liable and punished. If a sitting Congressperson lies to his/her fellows or constituents, there is no accountability, even if there is harm caused. It is not, "no harm, no foul" as Chick Hearn used to say; it is "Go F yourself" as Cheney used to say!

Posted by: st john on April 16, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

[...] he was lying well in advance of Paul Krugman's next deadline. -- Steve Benen

It's little zingers like that, that I love about you, Steve.

Vis "David Brooks is off today", mentioned by a couple of commenters above: The first time I saw that notice (some years ago, when I switched from the Washington Post to The New York Times), I fired off a "letter" to the Editor: "Why is that news worth mentioning? David Brooks is "off" every day." Boy, was my face red, when I realised that it was a standard notice they posted every time one of their regulars was on vacation...

Posted by: exlibra on April 16, 2010 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

For all his professed piety, Senator McConnell certainly doesn't seem to fear the God who authored the Ninth Commandment.

Posted by: kk on April 17, 2010 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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