Mitch McConnell's Very Bad Week (Updated)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spent the past couple of weeks all over the cable news networks saying things like this about the Financial Reform Bill making it's way through the Senate:

Of course, this was an outright lie. It was also word for word the route Fox "news" political analyst Frank Luntz had advised the GOP to take in his infamous memo about killing Financial Reform.

Expecting the left blogosphere to do the media's job was a given.

What I wasn't expecting was much of a push back from Senate Democrats for, well, being Senate Democrats.

And I sure wasn't expecting our disgraceful media elite to call McConnell out on the lies they knew were coming (having reported the Luntz memo extensively).

I was wrong on both counts.

Rep. Barney Frank calls out Mitch McConnell & Co. for lying:
Frank: McConnell's Statements Either "Willful Ignorance Or Absolute Dishonesty"

Sen. Chris Dodd, who's been working tirelessly on Financial Reform, vehemently refuted McConnell's lies:
Brave New Films asked, "Whose Side is Mitch McConnell Really On?" in this video:
Time magazine did a point by point comparison of McConnell's talking points and Luntz's talking points:

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?"

(See "Top 10 Financial Crisis Buzzwords.")

Media Matters did something similar in "Luntzspeak: Conservative media claim financial reform would result in "permanent bailout"":
Echoing Luntz, right-wing media advance attack on financial reform as "permanent bailout"

Luntz: "[T]he single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout." As The Washington Post's Ezra Klein pointed out, assertions that the financial regulation bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) provides for a "permanent bailout" or "bailouts forever" echo advice from a January memo by Republican strategist Frank Luntz. The Huffington Post reported that "Republican message guru Frank Luntz has put together a playbook to help derail financial regulatory reform" and that "Luntz wrote. 'Frankly, the single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout.' "

Fox News advances Sen. McConnell's claim that bill "will guarantee perpetual taxpayer bailout of Wall Street banks." On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson reported briefly on the "plan for financial reform" and stated that "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says the Democrats' plan is going to mean billions in taxpayer money to keep bad banks afloat." Fox & Friends then ran a video clip of McConnell stating that the bill "will guarantee perpetual taxpayer bailout of Wall Street banks."

Wash. Times op-ed: Bill would create "a permanent bailout program." In a March 25 op-ed in The Washington Times, the Heritage Foundation's James Gattuso wrote that the financial regulation bill "would extend 'too big to fail' while in effect creating a permanent bailout program." Gattuso later stated: "The Senate bill would create a $50 billion fund to be used to help finance these forced liquidations to soften the blow for some creditors. Supporters say this funding would be used only in the rarest of cases. Nonsense. If governments have access to money, they tend to use it. This is nothing more than a permanent TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) fund."

Wall Street Journal op-ed: "The Dodd Bill: Bailouts Forever." In an April 7 Wall Street Journal op-ed, headlined "The Dodd Bill: Bailouts Forever," Peter J. Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute and University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel wrote: "The Dodd bill provides for a $50 billion fund, collected in advance from large financial firms, that will be used for the resolution process. In other words, the creditors of any company that is resolved under the Dodd bill have a chance to be bailed out. That's what these outside funds are for."
Also see HuffPo's Ryan Grim's, "Democrats Batter Mitch McConnell For Standing With Wall Street."

UPDATE: As well as Think Progress', "McConnell Slams Financial Reform Bill After Meeting With Hedge Fund Managers And Other Wall Street Elites"

Keith Olbermann & NY Times Economist Paul Krugman blast McConnell's "Orwellian opposition" to financial reform:
Rachel Maddow then reported on McConnell being "lashed by hometown paper":

Democrats are now jumping all over McConnell, first with an ad aimed at him specifically and then a second ad in which Senators Dick Durbin & Charles Schumer explain what Democrats -- who want real Wall Street reform -- are trying to accomplish with the bill McConnell has been lying about on a near daily basis:
Luntz Led
Democrats Are Cleaning Up Wall Street

MSNBC John Harwood pointedly states McConnell's argument on Wall Street reform are "silly."
Talking with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, CNBS's Ronald Isana laughed at McConnell's Luntz-inspired Talking point on financial reform:
Of course having no sense of shame after being called out on his lies, McConnell doubled down, insisting the GOP might block the bill from coming up for a vote, one which Majority Lead Reid has now called for sometime next week.
Every member of the Senate Republican Caucus has signed a letter, delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, expressing opposition to the Democrats' financial regulatory reform bill, which they all claim will lead to more Wall Street bailouts.

"We are united in our opposition to the partisan legislation reported by the Senate Banking Committee," the letter reads. "As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks."

As of last night, 40 of the Senate's 41 Republicans had signed the letter. The lone holdout, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said yesterday that she opposed the legislation but hadn't yet decided whether to sign, and it's not clear what convinced her.

Though the letter is unequivocal about the GOP's opposition to the bill, it does not contain an explicit threat to use the Senate rules to block debate on the bill, if Reid tries to bring it to the floor.

read more....

This time around, these threats don't seem to be causing the Dems to quiver in fear, in fact, President Obama has just threatened to veto the bill if it doesn't include serious derivatives controls:

Before meeting with his economic advisers today, President Obama told reporters he'd veto any financial regulatory reform bill that doesn't "bring the derivatives market under control."

"We can't allow history to repeat itself," he said before meeting with the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. (You can watch the meeting live at the White House web site.)

Financial reform is being worked on in the Senate right now. Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he hopes to see a bill on the floor next week.

Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has been working on the reform bill. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today unveiled her committee's bill to regulate the over-the-counter derivatives market.

Mitch McConnell doesn't have a leg to stand on. Even his 41 GOP signatures aren't saying they'll block the bill from coming up for a vote.

I suspect that some of them realize if there's any way to ensure being forever linked to Wall Street's greed and corruption & the economic collapse their actions caused faster than any other, it's to stop a bill that nearly 60% of the country wants in order to prevent another Great Recession.

Once again, here's Senator Dodd: We Don't Work For Big Banks:
Headlines like these aren't going to help Sen. McConnell one iota: Goldman Is Charged With Subprime Fraud:

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged Goldman Sachs Group Inc. with defrauding investors, alleging that Goldman let a big hedge fund fill a financial product with risky subprime mortgages and then failed to disclose that to the product's buyers.

The SEC said in the civil complaint that Goldman and Fabrice Tourre, then vice president, created and sold opaque collateralized-debt obligations, or CDOs, that hinged on the performance of subprime-mortgage-backed securities.

People walk past Julie Mehretu's "Mural" in the lobby of the Goldman Sachs headquarters in the Lower Manhattan area of New York.

Goldman Sachs, which in a statement called the accusations "completely unfounded in law and fact," could face steep fines and be on the hook to repay nearly $1 billion of investor losses. The charges mark the first action regulators have taken against a Wall Street firm for betting on the housing market's collapse, and represents another blow to an investment bank under attack for how it handled the financial crisis.

read more....

Democrats are more than happy to be having this fight, Mitch.

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