CALLING OUT MCCONNELL…. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made the laughable argument that the Wall Street reform legislation would “institutionalize” bailouts, there was one key upside: he was lying well in advance of Paul Krugman’s next deadline.

The NYT columnist doesn’t disappoint, labeling the Republican’s nonsensical rhetoric “shameless.”

…Mr. McConnell is pretending to stand up for taxpayers against Wall Street while in fact doing just the opposite. In recent weeks, he and other Republican leaders have held meetings with Wall Street executives and lobbyists, in which the G.O.P. and the financial industry have sought to coordinate their political strategy.

And let me assure you, Wall Street isn’t lobbying to prevent future bank bailouts. If anything, it’s trying to ensure that there will be more bailouts. By depriving regulators of the tools they need to seize failing financial firms, financial lobbyists increase the chances that when the next crisis strikes, taxpayers will end up paying a ransom to stockholders and executives as the price of avoiding collapse.

Even more important, however, the financial industry wants to avoid serious regulation; it wants to be left free to engage in the same behavior that created this crisis. It’s worth remembering that between the 1930s and the 1980s, there weren’t any really big financial bailouts, because strong regulation kept most banks out of trouble. It was only with Reagan-era deregulation that big bank disasters re-emerged. In fact, relative to the size of the economy, the taxpayer costs of the savings and loan disaster, which unfolded in the Reagan years, were much higher than anything likely to happen under President Obama.

Even for Senate Republicans, this is an ugly scam — McConnell rushes off to New York for a private, behind-closed-doors meeting with hedge fund managers and other Wall Street elites, and he returns to the Hill to kill the legislation that would bring some accountability to the same industry whose recklessness nearly destroyed the global financial system.

CNBC’s John Harwood explained this week that McConnell’s anti-reform argument is “a little silly when you look at the text of the bill.”

And with that in mind, the White House is encouraging people to look at the text of the bill.

As Krugman concluded, “So don’t be fooled. When Mitch McConnell denounces big bank bailouts, what he’s really trying to do is give the bankers everything they want.”

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.