Is that the best you can do, Mitch?

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Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was asked directly if his strident opposition to financial reform was because he is acting on behalf of big banks. His ringing denial? “I’d say that’s inaccurate.”

Really Mitch? Politicians are usually at their loudest and most passionate when denying
charges of corruption. The best you can muster is a halfhearted ‘not so much’? Perhaps you had a hard time denying that you’re acting on behalf of Wall Street because, to all appearances, you are.

The financial sector has been McConnell’s largest career contributor at $5.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  McConnell joined the top GOP Senatorial fundraiser last week to meet with a group of 25 Wall Street execs and coordinate their opposition to financial reform. Then McConnell took to the Senate floor to push the big banks’ bailout message.

From McConnell’s hometown paper:

"The undercurrent of the gathering," FOX reports, "was undeniably political. … McConnell and Cornyn made it clear they need Wall Street’s help" to defeat the reforms by electing more Republicans in November.

On Tuesday and again Wednesday, McConnell took to the Senate floor to denounce a bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee.

Interestingly, McConnell is disparaging the proposed reforms in words recommended by a pollster.

"If the outline of his speech sounds familiar," wrote Adam Sorensen on Time’s political blog, "it’s because it is the exact argument pollster Frank Luntz urged Republicans to make earlier this year in a widely publicized memo."

Read Time magazine’s side-by-side comparison of McConnell’s extraordinary claims that the Dodd bill would create perpetual taxpayer bailouts and the Frank Luntz messaging memo directing the GOP on what they need to say to kill any bill.

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."

McConnell – nod to the big bank donors holding the cue cards – appears committed to distorting the truth beyond all recognition to try and kill reform legislation. 

And check out Paul Krugman’s NY Times column today, where he uses a little word jujitsu to highlight just how absurd McConnell’s claims really are:

On Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, called for the
abolition of municipal fire departments.

Firefighters, he declared, “won’t solve the problems that led to recent fires. They will make them worse.” The existence of fire departments, he went on, “not only allows for taxpayer-funded bailouts of burning buildings; it institutionalizes them.” He concluded, “The way to solve this problem is to let the people who make the mistakes that lead to fires pay for them. We won’t solve this problem until the biggest buildings are allowed to burn.”

O.K., I fibbed a bit. Mr. McConnell said almost everything I attributed to him, but he was talking about financial reform, not fire reform. In particular, he was objecting not to the existence of fire departments, but to legislation that would give the government the power to seize and restructure failing financial institutions.

But it amounts to the same thing.

And that’s the kind of reality-bending logic you can buy if you have Wall Street’s capacity to spend $1.4 million a day (see the numbers at Americans for Financial Reform) lobbying against financial reform.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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