Far From Arkansas, Union Advocates Praise Blanche Lincoln

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The labor unions and the political left have made Blanche Lincoln, a centrist Democrat from Arkansas, their top primary target. The rhetoric supporting her opponent, Bill Halter, has come fast and fierce. On April 13, Moveon.org sent out an email that read like this:

Imagine you’re a giant Wall Street bank. Life is good. For years, you made huge profits by trading on secret, highly risky “shadow markets.” Unlike the stock market, these shadow markets were virtually unregulated. . . . Now you have a problem: the Senate Banking Committee just passed a reform bill that would drag the shadow markets into the light and end your incredibly risky—but lucrative—behavior. Are you worried about your profits? Nope. Because according to news reports, you can count on Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln—who’s received more than $1.3 million from the financial industry—to riddle reform with so many loopholes that it’s toothless.

Three days later, the AFL-CIO sent out an email with a press release from Halter’s campaign demanding that Lincoln return contributions from Goldman Sachs. It included this quote: “Bill Halter has pledged that as soon as gets elected, he will work to rein in the casino behavior on Wall Street and avoid future bailouts. After fourteen years and thousands of dollars in contributions from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street power brokers, Sen. Lincoln has decided it’s time to get serious about financial reform,” said Halter campaign manager Carol Butler.

All the while, just about every newspaper in America was reporting that Lincoln had in fact taken a hard line, first announced on April 12, against granting banks any loopholes to tough new derivatives regulation. It was as if the AFL-CIO and MoveOn.org didn’t think their audience read the papers.

On Tuesday, Michael Greenberger, a top adviser to the union-backed group, Americans for Financial Reform, went a long way to ending this political charade. Standing in front of Lincoln, in a press conference convened by Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell in the Dirksen Office Building, Greenberger praised Lincoln’s leadership on financial reform.”We are all very thankful to you. You have become a champion of ours,” Greenberger said. “It took a lot of courage.”

Just don’t expect those words to be showing up anytime soon in a Halter ad, a MoveOn email, or a press release from the AFL-CIO.

Lincoln, meanwhile, has declined Halter’s recommendation that she return the money donated by Goldman.