THAT WAS QUICK…. A couple of hours ago, the Senate was able to put together 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster on Wall Street reform. This afternoon, the legislation, at long last, will get an up-or-down vote and then head to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
But before the Senate even votes, Republican leaders have already begun talking about — what else? — repeal.
They’re not campaigning on it in earnest — at least not yet — but Republican leaders say that, given the power, they would like to do away with Wall Street reform much like they have already discussed repealing health care reform.
“I think it ought to be repealed,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, in response to a question from TPMDC, at his weekly press conference this morning.
One of his top lieutenants, Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence agrees. “We hope [the Senate vote] falters so we can start over,” Pence told TPMDC yesterday. “I think the reason you’re not hearing talk about efforts to repeal the permanent bailout authority is because the bill hasn’t passed yet.”
GOP leaders can throw around silly “repeal” rhetoric when it comes to health care reform, in large part because an aggressive and dishonest campaign had made the Affordable Care Act controversial. The Republican base is pleased with the boasts, and most of the political mainstream doesn’t take the promises seriously anyway.
But talking about repealing Wall Street reform is much dumber, since the effort is far more popular. Boehner & Co. consistently forget this, but Americans still tend to be pretty annoyed with the financial industry that nearly destroyed the global economic system, and which was bailed out by taxpayers. The available evidence suggests voters want the new reform measures, if only to help keep the industry that ran wild in check.
Arguing that new safeguards and accountability measures should be “repealed,” before they even pass, makes it sound as if Republicans — if given a chance by voters — plan to go out of their way to look out for the Wall Street lobbyists and hedge fund managers that brought the system to the verge of collapse. (Those would be, by the way, the same Wall Street lobbyists congressional Republicans huddled with when plotting how best to kill reform legislation.)
Boehner’s remarks aren’t surprising, of course. He did, after all, recently suggest accountability measures are a “nuclear weapon,” being used to kill “an ant.” But it’s nevertheless a message Republicans may not want to take to the public: “Vote GOP: We’ll put Wall Street safeguards back to 2008 levels!”