Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been blasting the Senate’s financial regulatory reform bill in recent days, falsely arguing that it “institutionalizes” bailouts for Wall Street. As Think Progress reported, McConnell’s reason for opposing financial reform seems disingenuous in the face of reports that he attended a private fundraiser with hedge fund managers and other Wall Street elites last week.
Yesterday, reporters pressed McConnell for details about his meetings on Wall Street. McConnell repeatedly refused to discuss the matter and claimed that he based his opposition to financial reform not on fundraising from Wall Street but rather on concerns from community banks in Kentucky:
QUESTION: How do you push back against this perception that you’re doing the bidding of the large banks? There was a report that you guys met with hedge fund managers in New York. A lot of people are viewing this particular line of argument, this bailout argument as spin —
MCCONNELL: You could talk to the community bankers in Kentucky.
BASH: I’m not asking you about the community bankers.
MCCONNELL: Well, I’m telling you about the community bankers in Kentucky.
QUESTION: Have you talked with other people other than community bankers?
MCCONNELL: Well, sure. We talk to people all the time. I’m not denying that. What’s wrong with that? That’s how we learn how people feel about legislation. But the community bankers in Kentucky, the little guys, the mainstreet guys, are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill.
QUESTION: What do you say to folks this is just meant to deflect attention from the fact your defending the large banks?
MCCONNELL: I’d say that’s innaccurate.
McConnell takes more money from the finance industry than any other sector. He has taken $1,147,924 for his current re-election campaign, including PAC contributions from megabanks like Citigroup and Bank of America.
Rather than confront these facts, McConnell has chosen to echo ready-made propaganda crafted by GOP public relations consultant Frank Luntz. McConnell’s talking points are even earning derision from media pundits. CNBC’s Ron Insana laughed when trying to explain McConnell’s views, and MSNBC’s John Harwood said that “Senator McConnell’s argument is a little silly when you look at the text of the bill.”