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Sens. McConnell and Cornyn go to Wall Street

It's stuff like this that makes me think Wall Street executives aren't very smart.

As a financial reform bill starts to take shape in Washington, two key lawmakers came to New York City last week to explain what it means for Wall Street, and how financial executives might help prevent some of its least market-friendly aspects from becoming law by electing more Republicans, FOX Business Network has learned.

About 25 Wall Street executives, many of them hedge fund managers, sat down for a private meeting Thursday afternoon with two of the most powerful Republican lawmakers in Congress: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and John Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, one of the primary fundraising arms of the Republican Party.

McConnell and Cornyn's many virtues aside, neither of them are experts on this bill. Neither of them sits on the Senate Banking Committee. Neither of them can say what the legislation means for Wall Street. It's one thing to have those two going out on Fox News and offering red meat speeches to the base, but to have them telling a room of executives how the derivatives language will affect their business? It's laughable. And they didn't even have enough respect for the Wall Streeters to bring Richard Shelby or Bob Corker or one of the Republicans who can talk confidently about the legislation.

That said, if you're looking for help predicting the ultimate amount of bipartisan cooperation on this bill, the fact that Cornyn and McConnell are basing their fundraising strategy around their opposition to financial regulation should offer a clue.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 15, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
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you're 100% RIGHT. McConnell and Cornyn likely know nothing about the FINREG bill.

But couldn't the same be said of many Dems that touted the healthcare bill that knew nothing about it? One of my local congressmen Frank Pallone didn't even understand the law in his own state that he's been representing for over 30 years and that didn't stop him from spouting falsehoods about how healthcare works in NJ.

The end result is politicians should realize that word in today's media circus will always get out.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 15, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I completely disagree.

Wall Street has a lot of ex-staffers hired as lobbyists who have ALREADY explained to them how the legislation on the table will affect their business. They don't need McConnell to explain to them what the current policy issues are and what their impacts will be. They walk into that room knowing what's on the table (and what's in the wings), and they've got a pretty decent sense about what they want changed.

McConnell is there to do two things: first, to demonstrate his commitment to put whatever they want into this bill, and second, to talk tactics on how to get Wall Street's top priorities on this bill.

This is EXACTLY the meeting Wall Street wants. McConnell is laying out the quid pro quo, and he's setting expectations as to what Wall Street can reasonably expect to get for their purchase.

You need the Republican leadership for that, not their committee members.

Posted by: theorajones1 | April 15, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Is this a function of the election being a mid-term? I don't see how opposing finreg would be a good political move with regard to all the independents who have supposedlty drifted right in the polls.

Posted by: jduptonma | April 15, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Dems should go nuclear on FinReg.

This effort must be done quickly and correctly.

If the GOP is going to act like little Nazi's and try to sabotage something so fundamentally important to the financial stability of the entire capitalist system, then we need to go hardball on them ASAP.

This is an issue the media ought not play politics with. This means the media should out McConnell as the pathetic partisan liar he is.

Posted by: Lomillialor | April 15, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

If the Senate minority leader calls to ask for a meeting to explain anything, even how his neighbor feels about cupcakes, and you don't go to the meeting, then that would be evidence of stupidity.

Posted by: ostap666 | April 15, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Why does that make you think Wall Street executives aren't very smart? Powerful politicians want to have a meeting, what does it hurt to take it? The article doesn't really address how receptive the Wall Street folks were to the argument.

@theorajones: "This is EXACTLY the meeting Wall Street wants. McConnell is laying out the quid pro quo, and he's setting expectations as to what Wall Street can reasonably expect to get for their purchase"

So were you saying that Obama and Hillary were laying out the quid pro quo when they collectively got upwards of $12 million from Wall Street (as reported by the LA Times, March 2008) compared to McCain's $2.5 million?

Perhaps that's what that stimulus bill, and the treasury's blanket authority to throw tax payer money at big Wall Street banks, based on the sole discretion of the Teasury Secretary, was about? A little quid pro quo?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 15, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

It's encouraging to me that Fox even posts a story like this.

Posted by: madjoy | April 15, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"I don't see how opposing finreg would be a good political move with regard to all the independents who have supposedlty drifted right in the polls."

It's all about how they play it. FinReg is just a label. If it's characterized as being a ploy to funnel more money to Wall Street fat cats while penalizing small upstarts or hurting the technology sector or penalizing job growth or will "end up raising costs on the consumer, the banks will just pass the expenses along to companies who pass it on to the business that need their money and those business pass the cost a long to you" . . .

And there's plenty of stuff (funeral plans, for example) that may or may not be good ideas, but can be spun not only as bad ideas, but as indictments of the "anti-business" doom-and-gloom attitudes of Democrats. Tackling FinReg could bear much political fruit.

And, from a partisan point of view, you can always count on the other party doing something ill-considered in their legislation that makes for great, if misleading, sound bites. End of life counseling, anyone?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 15, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I listened to McConnells multiple comments yesterday. He's either willfully ignorant or lying like a dog. He keeps stating this bill will make taxpayer funded bailouts standard - and that is totally inaccurate.

But then again, it's quite obvious whos interests Mr. McConnell is looking out for.

Posted by: NotFooledTX | April 15, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

This issue is an example of how things go in modern times. In a nutshell....

- The GOP screws things up in some major way, then after Americans get tired of the pain, they momentarily turn away from their beloved good ol' boys and to the minority-loving Democrats.

- The Democrats then come in and make one or two major corrections, as well as some minor errors, then get voted out of office, because after all, we want people in power who look like us.

For example:

Reagan and Bush started creating debt like it was going out of style. Clinton and the Dems raised taxes and commercialized the Internet and created 33 million jobs and balanced the budget, and then the GOP was elected to fight that nonsense, and they impeached Clinton and proceeded to elect an idiot who then doubled the national debt in just a few years and attacked the wrong country and in so doing enflamed terrorism even more (according to the Pentagon) and who also announced the economy was strong just about a month before the Great Recession started. And now Obama and the Dems have been in office for just over a year and, believe it or not, things are starting to improve though only 12 months ago the entire country was absolutely sure we were on the precipice of another depression.

I truly do not understand American independants. They IMO are the big problem in US politcs. The right wingers are consistent and we KNOW their ideas are consistently dangerous and geared towards the creation of a libertarian utopia (though most of them deny that). The Dems OTOH are basically (not 100%, but much closer) honest to their stated goals, though as politicians they often lie to achieve their agenda (all pols do). The independants can't seem to make head or tails of the GOP lie machine. They give power to one party and then just as quickly strip it away. And whenever they do leave power in the hands of one party, it is based on fear (such as terrorism in 2004), a year when mid-terms unusually stayed with the ruling party.

Independants should only be allowed to vote once every 10 years (I'm kidding) so that one party can make some headway and then the idiots in this country might be able to discern who's right and who's wrong .

Posted by: Lomillialor | April 15, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Kevin : "So were you saying that Obama and Hillary were laying out the quid pro..."

Apparently not, since they are clearly trying to rein in Wall Street (even if maybe not enough IMO).

It's a fundamental fact of US politics that you have to take the money to get elected and have a chance to change things.

It's the McConnells of the world who appear to be doing Wall Street's bidding right now.

Posted by: Lomillialor | April 15, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how much or how little McConnel or Cornyn know about the bill. What seems dumb to me is that Wall Street execs would want to be so public in trying to influence the outcome of the bill in their favor. I wouldnt't think they'd want there to be news stories about them taking meetings with powerful government officials. It seems likely that stories like this are more likely to shift public opinion towards stronger FinReg than weaker.

If it were me, I'd be in constant contact with the Republicans through intermediaries, but I'd avoid being seen together.

And does Mitch McConnell really think it helps him to be seen as cozying up to Wall Street execs?

Posted by: MosBen | April 15, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse


I have no words for your tirade. Just a graph.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 15, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Hey Kevin, maybe wall st gave more to Obama and Clinton because they knew that McCain was batsh*t crazy and had no idea how to deal with the financial crisis or the economy in general. Just a thought....

Posted by: srw3 | April 15, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse


actually i think they gave more because they knew Obama and the Dems would win with the way the "wind" was blowing. But I'll agree that Obama's done a better job on the economy than McCain could have done.

oh and Lomillalor i will say one thing. How does it work in your mind that Republicans that "lie" are greedy, deceptive, scum sucking loser scumbags, blah blah blah but Dems that do it are just being honest to their stated goals and well you know all politicians lie.

You really sticking to the statement that you EVER voted Republican?

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 15, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Theorajones has it right. Wall Street has traditionally contributed more to Dems (or at least a lot to Dems) more for cultural reasons (lack of comfort with the southern religious wing of the GOP and its pet issues) I suspect. Also, many found GW Bush incompetent and McCain both incompetent on economic issues and scary on foreign policy. That's largely why Obama won, lest we forget.

McConnell and Cornyn are trying to get that money back for the GOP. That's what it's about, pure and simple.

Posted by: Mimikatz | April 15, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"McConnell and Cornyn's many virtues aside..."

Disseminating is not, strictly speaking, a virtue.

Posted by: Jenn2 | April 15, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Perhaps that's what that stimulus bill, and the treasury's blanket authority to throw tax payer money at big Wall Street banks, based on the sole discretion of the Teasury Secretary, was about? A little quid pro quo?"

You mean the Treasury's blanket authority to throw cash at Wall Street that passed at Bush's desperate urging, as well as the urging of every single sane economist on the planet?

You mean the thing that this finreg proposal is trying to prevent from ever happening again by creating "wipeout" provisions and demanding financial institutions--not taxpayers--put up cash for these wipeouts? So that we have an option other the hostage situation we faced in 2008: Either allow the entire economy to collapse or finance a bailout? The hostage situation that Republicans want Wall Street to be able to do AGAIN next time, by killing this bill?

And you mean the stimulus bill that had almost nothing for Wall Street? That was mostly funds sent to states, tax breaks for individuals, and various public capital works projects?

Posted by: theorajones1 | April 15, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse


Your chart is a projection. Obama has said he will not be satisfied with such projections.

4/5 of the last year's (2009) deficit was due to Bush's policies. The other 1/5 was due to Obama needing to do things to fight the recession he inherited and because tax revenues declined due to the recession.

Now, are you aware that Reagan and the Bushes created 82% of ALL the debt ass of Jan 2009, when Obama took over? And are you aware that the projections you cite are primarily because of the system/law Obama inherited? Obama has already cut more programs and instituted more savings than all the last three Presidents combined. He will have to do more.

And by the way, even had Bush been reelected a third time or McCain been elected, those projections would still be the way they are (even worse considering those two wanted to cut taxes even more and renew the Bush tax cuts in 2011).

Posted by: Lomillialor | April 15, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

No way do the majority of Republicans want any meaningful financial reform and oversight. Wall Street Bankers are their base.

Just listen to Sen. McConnell's rhetoric: It's practially verbatim from the Republican talking points issued by Frank Luntz. He is the GOP's master truth-twister (author of "Words That Work: It's not what you say, it's what people hear")
Read Luntz's January 2010 memo to the GOP on what to say to defeat financial reform and then listen to the echo chamber among Republicans. I hope some have the good sense not to follow the "Waterloo-ists" on this one.

Posted by: joy2 | April 15, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

You hit the nail on the head.

Here's a sampling of words you'll be hearing a lot of from the Republican echo chamber.

Frank Luntz's Words to Use:


Posted by: joy2 | April 15, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

You have this backward, Ezra. McConnell and Cornyn didn't fly to NY to explain anything; they were summoned and instructed on how things are going to be: kill the bill and Wall Street will buy ads for the GOP in November... now that corporate ad spending is all legal and stuff.

Posted by: Dennmark | April 16, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

There is no possible way to know how many ways this bill will harm our financial system. Pretty much the same thing with any legislation.

Posted by: kingstu01 | April 16, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

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