Republicans say that the Democrats’ plan for financial regulatory reform will only enable future bank bailouts but not even Washington, D.C.’s ultimate insider can defend the GOP’s position. Time’s Mark Halperin told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, “They are willfully misreading the bill or they are engaged in a cynical attempt to keep the president from achieving something.”
A January memo from Republican pollster Frank Luntz suggested that the public would be less likely to support financial reform if it was described as a fund to bail out banks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to be taking Luntz’ advice when he repeatedly used the word “bailout” to describe the bill in a speech on the Senate floor. “This bill not only allows for taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks, it institutionalizes them,” he said.
“The thing is, it’s crazy,” Austin Goolsbee, a senior White House economic advisor, told Scarborough. According to the legislation, if the federal government is forced to intervene in a failing bank in the future, “all of the money is paid by financial institutions in the form of a bank fee,” said Goolsbee.
“Nobody’s allowed to be bailed out. It specifically outlaws bailouts. They must be liquidated or broken into pieces and sold off. All the management must be fired, and the shareholders must be wiped out. It specifically outlaws exactly the thing that they just keep standing up and saying that it promotes,” he explained.
“This is money for funeral expenses. This is not keeping guys alive,” Goolsbee added.
Scarborough then attempted to get the Republican view from Halperin. “Defend the Republicans’ approach. Just pretended you aren’t an effete, left wing, Upper West Side journalist. And let’s just pretend you are a down-the-middle, hard-nosed, gumshoe. Just this once, defend the Republican position,” Scarborough asked sarcastically.
“I cannot defend what they are doing,” Halperin declared to protests from Scarborough and his conservative co-host Mika Brzezinski.
“They are willfully misreading the bill or they are engaged in a cynical attempt to keep the president from achieving something,” said Halperin.
Goolsbee summed up Halperin’s point perfectly. “Everybody knows a consultant just handed them that line and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re just reading it. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. It could be a bill about breakfast cereal and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to say this is a bailout bill,” he said.
Halperin’s remarks were first noticed by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line.
This video is from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, broadcast April 20, 2010.