President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are absolutely giddy today to be losing a procedural vote on Wall Street reform. Why are they so happy? If the Senate Republicans stand together and vote no, Democrats are prepared to rake them over the coals on the issue, as 2/3 of all Americans support financial reform. By being the Party of No, the GOP is painting themselves as the party of Pro Wall St.
According to LA Times’ D.C. Now blog, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley laid out the frame, “We remain eager to work with Republicans who are sincere about reforming Wall Street, and we are hopeful for bipartisan agreement on this important effort. But there are no two ways about it: A vote against even opening debate on holding Wall Street accountable is a vote to protect Wall Street.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what the Democrats are up to here. If the Republicans continue to oppose Wall St. reform, they had best be prepared to be battered on the issue by Democrats all summer long. This is a similar strategy to what the Republicans used last summer on health care reform, but the difference being that the Democrats have overwhelming public support on their side. According to a new ABC News/ Washington Post poll, almost 66% of Americans favor federal oversight of loans and industry paid fund that would cover the cost of dismantling failed firms.
Obama has strong support on this issue, as 52% of those surveyed trust him most compared to 35% who trust the Republicans in Congress on financial reform. Independents also prefer Obama on this issue, 47%-35%. Seventy five percent of Democrats, 57% of Independents, and 44% of Republicans favor federal reform. It is no wonder that the Democrats are salivating at the prospect of the Republicans pulling out their Party of No shtick.
After spending days, lying about the bill and referring to it as another bailout, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just may be starting to understand that he and his merry choir of negativity are being set up for big blow. McConnell’s media talking point had been, “In fact, if you look at it carefully, it will lead to endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks. It actually guarantees future bailouts of Wall Street banks” and that it sets up “in perpetuity the potential for additional taxpayer bailouts of large institutions.” Polifact rated this claim as false, and yesterday on ABC Paul Krugman called it one of the most dishonest claims in political history.
McConnell should be aware that this issue is a minefield for the GOP, but the Republicans have revealed their expertise in the art of self destruction. Obama and the Democrats have the GOP cornered, and have set up a masterful strategy where they will actually win by losing today’s vote. Financial reform will get passed because the issue is too popular with the public for the Republicans to allow Obama to have another victory. In the end, I suspect that Democrats will make some small tweaks as concessions and the bill will pass with 60-70 votes, because if it doesn’t Congressional Republicans and their candidates will be in for a long, long, summer.