GOP gets away with it
by Gene Lyons
Consider Mitch the
Bitch. For weeks, McConnell has been trying
to prevent action on pending
financial-reform legislation by claiming that
it would lead to "endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks."
In reality, the proposed law would do exactly
the opposite: liquidating failed investment firms' assets through
a process like the one used by the FDIC to shut
down insolvent savings banks. Management would be fired
and shareholders given nothing until creditors
had been paid. Wall Street firms would be required to pay into
a fund underwriting the arrangement. Taxpayer
dollars wouldn't be used.
Even Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who helped draft
the legislation, has pointedly contradicted McConnell's
mischaracterization. New York Times columnist
Paul Krugman has characterized it as "possibly the most d
ishonest argument ever made in the history of
(Really, professor? More dishonest than Hitler's
"stab in the back" charge that Jews and Socialists conspired
to make Germany lose World War I? More dishonest
than the Tonkin Gulf resolution that dragged us into Vietnam?)
Even so, Krugman's hyperbole is understandable.
Say what you will about academia, in professorial debate
so blatant a misrepresentation would be seen
as a shameful confession of weakness. Somebody who can't win
an argument without resorting to a simple "black
is white" lie gets as little respect as he deserves.
Elsewhere, Krugman puts the question in an appropriately
Orwellian context: "Has there ever been a time in
U.S. political history," he asks, "when one of
the two major political parties was so addicted to doublethink,
so committed to pretending that it's advocating
the opposite of its actual agenda?"
Specifically, McConnell came up with the "bailout"
fiction immediately after meeting with Wall Street high-rollers who
a) want to keep placing risk-free bets with other
people's money; and
b) certainly don't want to pay for what amounts
to bankruptcy insurance.
Sympathetic to the McDuck point of view, McConnell
evidently figures that if he can stall the bill for a while,
he can get Uncle Scrooge (and eventually himself)
a better deal.
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