Just early last week, the Wall Street reform bill was innocently going about its business, perfectly secure in its bipartisanality. It wasn’t just bipartisan-curious, it was actually practicing a bipartisan lifestyle. It didn’t just include Republican ideas, Republican senators had actively participated in drafting the bill.
And then along came Mitch McConnell last Tuesday — after meeting privately in New York behind closed doors with unidentified members of the Wall Street elite, including hedge fund managers and bankers — and decided that bipartisanality was an abomination, and the bill must be cured of its bipartisanality.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell this week threw a rhetorical stick of dynamite into what had been a collegial debate about overhauling the nation’s financial regulations…
However, critics say it was no coincidence that his blasts came after he met with Wall Street executives, and that his comments mirrored advice from Republican strategist Frank Luntz on how best to defeat the Democrats’ legislation.
Leaders of both parties had vowed for months that consideration of financial regulatory changes wouldn’t mirror the angry, partisan debates over health care and stimulating the economy. Everyone agreed that voters want tough new restrictions on Wall Street, and the legislation that the Senate is to take up later this month is full of bipartisan ideas.
Then came McConnell’s barrage. On Tuesday, the day before a bipartisan White House meeting on the bill, the Kentucky senator charged that, “All the signs from the White House are that they’re not interested in talking.” On Wednesday, he insisted that the Democratic bill would encourage bailouts for big institutions, which it doesn’t.
Evan after McConnell launched his campaign, five Republican Senators were said on Wednesday to be still working with Democrats on the bill “in a bipartisan way”:
Though the GOP is following Luntz’s advice on rhetoric regarding Wall Street, several Republicans are still working in a bipartisan way with Democrats — including Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) — muddying McConnell’s message of opposition.
Sen. Bob Corker, who had worked extensively with Sen. Mark Warner on drafting language key language in the bill, went so far as to contemptuously dismiss McConnell’s overblown rhetoric in very strong terms:
Corker himself pushed his colleagues to back off the rhetoric on Wednesday. “This is like in the health care debate [with] death panels,” Corker said Wednesday, according to CongressDaily. “In the end of the day, there are not going to be death panels. …The rhetoric around this, an issue that could be dealt with literally in about five minutes, is overheated.”
In an interview with John King, Judd Gregg called McConnell’s claims “a touch over the top”.
On Thursday afternoon, McConnell’s attempt to cure the Wall Street reform bill of its bipartisanality was still unsuccessful, even though Judd Gregg had come to realize that there’s no harm in going a touch over the top, and Corker had decided that he had no problem signing his name to death panel rhetoric. But bipartisanality now hung by a pretty slender thread:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) does not have enough solid commitments from GOP lawmakers to block consideration of a Democratic Wall Street reform bill.
McConnell has circulated a letter within the GOP conference that would have Republicans pledge to block a motion to proceed to a financial regulatory reform bill unless Democrats agree to reopen it for bipartisan negotiations.
But McConnell has fallen short of the 41 signatures he needs to send Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a clear signal.
So far, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a crucial swing vote, has declined to sign the letter, according to a Republican source.
Collins said that she supports some of the provisions in the bill but has concerns about the way Democrats have handled it, specifically their decision to cut off talks with Republican negotiators before a bipartisan deal was reached.
But, lo and behold, there was some more behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, and by Friday the cure was complete. Senate Republicans were unanimously opposed to the bill, and all 41 had signed McConnell’s letter, endorsing the ridiculous claim that the bill is designed to facilitate rather than prevent future bank bailouts, and pronouncing the bill to be partisan:
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.”