This morning Washington woke up to reports on how the White House was going to go after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the financial reregulation bill. “McConnell’s arguments that the Democrat’s plan for Wall Street reform will perpetuate bailouts is pure fantasy cooked up by Frank Luntz in a right wing focus group – and bears no reality to the legislation or Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party’s longtime efforts to shill for Wall Street and its lobbyists,” a Democratic Party source told The Hill newspaper. “If Mitch McConnell wants to look foolish and to look like the bag man for big banks that he and his colleagues are – we’re glad to help.” McConnell is being “a little silly,” scolded New York Times writer John Harwood. Would the bill perpertrate taxpayer bailouts as McConnell alleges? Not true, FDIC Chair Sheila Bair told American Banker. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman called McConnell “truly shameless.” Mitch McConnell, mocked the Huffington Post, is George Orwell of 1984 Big Brother fame, reincarnated. The DNC has sent out 22 McConnell press releases in the last three days.
Dem operatives now have a lot more cannon fodder to work with. This afternoon, the 41 Senate Republicans sent Senate Majorty Leader Harry Reid a letter informing him of their unified opposition to the bill. “We simply cannot ask the American taxpayer to continue to subsidize this ‘too big to fail” policy,’ the letter read. ” We must ensure that Wall Street no longer believes or relies on Main Street to bail them out. Inaction is not an option. However, it is imperative that what we do does not worsen the current economic climate or codify the circumstances that led to the last financial crisis.”
Reid needs at least one Republican vote to prevent a filibuster and he had been hoping to flip Maine Senator Susan Collins, who’d been wavering. Instead, this afternoon, both parties dug in for a fight — something both sides see as having political silver linings. Republicans are hoping to fire up a base sick of massive deficit spending. Dems are looking to portray McConnell and the GOP as more on the side of Wall Street fat cat bankers than the little guy on Main Street (President Obama got in on the action this afternoon saying he’d veto any legislation that doesn’t regulate deriviatives). Only time will tell who wins this spin war with independents, but both sides are eagerly licking their chops in anticipation of a good fashioed dragged out partisan battle. Heck, both sides are already fundraising off of it. And what does this mean for the actual bill, which would impose tougher regulations on Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis and create a risk abritrator to hopefully prevent something like this from ever happening again? It’s probably dead for the year unless one side backs down and reaches out in earnest for a bipartisan deal — and in an election year, that’s not looking too likely.