Calling out McConnell, cont’d

CALLING OUT MCCONNELL, CONT’D…. I’m always encouraged when Paul Krugman appears on one of the Sunday shows; he tends to say things most guests don’t.

Take yesterday, for example. On ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) spoke at some length about the need for the Wall Street reform bill pending on the Hill to be “bipartisan.” Soon after, the roundtable discussion focused on this, and the NYT columnist emphasized a point that often goes overlooked.

“Anyone who says we need to be bipartisan should bear in mind that for the last several weeks, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has been trying to stop reform with possibly the most dishonest argument ever made in the history of politics, which is the claim that having regulation of the banks is actually bailing out the banks,” Krugman noted. “And basically, the argument boils down to saying that what we really need to do to deal with fires is abolish the fire department. Because then people will know that they can’t let their buildings burn in the first place, right? It’s incredible. So anyone who says bipartisan, should say, bipartisan doesn’t include the Senate minority leader.”

Sure, it’s a little — but only a little — hyperbolic to say McConnell’s “institutionalized bailout” lie is “possibly the most dishonest argument ever made in the history of politics,” but McConnell’s breathtaking dishonesty deserves to be called out in bold terms.

But Krugman’s larger point is arguably more important: the conventional wisdom continues to insist the lawmaking process is somehow inadequate, and possibly even illegitimate, if proposals aren’t “bipartisan.” But we’re also dealing with a dispute in which the leadership of a party has no qualms about blatantly, shamelessly lying.

And while it didn’t come up, the same dynamic has existed in every other policy debate of the last year and a half — health care, economic recovery, combating global warming, etc. — in which Dems are told they must gain Republican support, and the GOP leadership demonstrates its commitment to the process by making things up.

Which is why Krugman’s point is worth emphasizing, especially for establishment figures that assume Dems must be doing something wrong if Republican leaders aren’t happy.