"Wall Street people learn nothing and forget everything."
- Benjamin Graham -
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led his party in the Senate by blocking debate on the proposed bill to regulate Wall Street yesterday. In doing so, he pretty much proved what everyone knows anyway: the Republican Party is the party of Wall Street. While posturing as though he was a populist on the side of the average American by saying his opposition to the proposed Democratic regulation was based on its supposedly allowing "endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks." Well, now, that is just a lie, and McConnell knows it. The bill in question has NO provision for a government bailout of any kind, and instead spells out very specifically that next time a big bank is on the verge of collapse, it will be allowed to do so. Even further, the cost of its collapse and funeral will be covered not by taxpayers, but by a pool of funds contributed to beforehand by all the big banks.
More evidence that McConnell is lying and talking out of both sides of his mouth comes from the fact that, a mere two weeks ago, both he and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is also chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (a GOP fundraising arm) went jointly to meet with Wall Street bankers to raise money. They met privately with hedge fund investors and KKR, a major private equity firm in New York. It should also be noted that according to Open Secrets.org, between 2005-2010, the huge Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. was Cornyn's second largest campaign contributor. So now we are supposed to believe that McConnell and Cornyn are really looking out for the best interests of working and middle America and want to come down hard on Wall Street? How gullible do these guys think we are?
It was also interesting to note that Nebraska's pseudo-Democratic Senator Ben Nelson voted with the solid McConnell-led Republican bloc to kill debate on the bill and keep it from coming up to the floor. Just another of a long line of Republicanesque anti-progressive votes by Nelson, and it should serve as a lesson to all liberals and progressives: do NOT stay home from the primaries or elections this fall out of disgust. Your non-vote could end up aiding the election of conservative Republicans like McConnell or Cornyn, or mushy, Republican-Lite Democrats like Nelson.
The Democrats will not be stopped by this latest conservative Republican effort to lie about, distort, and obstruct the passage of this much-needed legislation. According to a very recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 61% of Americans believe that it is "a good idea for the government to more strictly regulate the way major financial companies do business." Obviously, big bankers, the Chamber of Commerce crowd, financial lobbyists, and the Republican Party (the party of Wall Street) all disagree and will oppose any attempt to more strongly regulate an out-of-control Wall Street. The Chamber of Commerce, in particular, has opposed any effort by the government to tilt the economic balance in favor of poor, working, and middle class Americans for as long as I can remember. They have consistently sided with and promoted now-discredited, failed free-market, conservative Republican notions of deregulation, export ofAmerican jobs overseas, and tax breaks for big business and the wealthy. But they are wrong - dead wrong - and this time I believe financial regulation will prevail. The 61% majority of Americans who strongly favor action on behalf on Main Street will trump the wishes of the big Wall Street banks, the Chamber of Commerce, and its beloved Republican Party, the party of Wall Street.