NO, NO, NO!
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided last week to portray the Democratic version of financial regulation as a Wall Street “bailout,” it seemed like a brilliant, albeit cynical, political move.
What do the voters hate even more than Wall Street? Bailouts. What’s the perfect way to combine their antagonism for big banks with their distaste for taxpayer-funded bailouts? Accuse the Democrats of bailing out the banks. Perfect.
A good political move in theory, only it didn’t work. First, the outcry was over a “bailout” that wasn’t. Granted, there is some money in the bill — $50 billion — but it’s provided by the banks, not the taxpayers. And it’s not there to bail out banks, it’s to help the sick ones die properly without creating a panic. “Paying for the funeral” is the way Treasury sources describe it…
And get this: When the GOP leadership hatched this idea, it found more than a handful of Republicans — and not just the usual moderate suspects — who actually want to vote for financial reform. In fact, the difference between Wall Street reform and, say, health care reform, is that “there truly is a group of us who will hold our side’s feet to the fire” to get a bill, one Senate Republican told me.
So when McConnell got all his Republicans to sign a measure to force more negotiations before bringing the bill to the floor, some were with him with a strong caveat: They would not threaten to filibuster a bill they think the country needs. Period.
The traditional Big Lie tactic worked well enough in watering down chances at real healthcare reform. Republicans had the aid of spineless Democrats on that one.
But financial reform is different. Voters want it done. In most cases, the supply of government exceeds the demand for it. In fact, a slew of recent polls show that only about 20 percent of the people trust the government to do the right thing. But even so, a majority of folks actually want the government to intervene to fix Wall Street’s excesses.
In other words, the banks are so out of control that even the inept government needs to step in and do something.
Republicans just may be smart enough to trade one class of opportunism – the Party of NO, after all, appeals to their teabagger trolls – for another more traditional role. Work to water down any possible sanctions that might rank the needs of American taxpayers above Wall Street profits.