O what a tangled web …

Mark Halperin calls the Republicans liars over financial services reform.

No one expects political speeches to directly reflect objective fact. But I’ve always thought there were limits: that a politician who wants to be thought of as a serious player can’t afford to wander off into Palin-land too far, or too often. Policing the boundaries is part of the job of the mass media, and I keep expecting that journalists are going to start calling out the Republicans for the sheer audacity of their mendacity.

So far, I’ve been disappointed.

But Mitch McConnell’s charge that financial-services reform is about bailing out the banks is so absurd, so opposite to the fact of the matter, that it may finally be the “bridge too far.” As Steve Benen says, “When even Mark Halperin is calling you out for lying, the conventional wisdom is turning against you.” Halperin’s usual reaction to political chicanery is admiration. But he can’t find a way of defending this one. Of the Republican leadership he says, “They are willfully misreading the bill or they are engaged in a cynical attempt to keep the president from achieving something.”

Arguably, McConnell’s lie about financial services reform is no more blatant than many of his lies about health care reform. But there’s a big difference: the banks are unpopular, and therefore a bill to rein them in is popular. Lots of people who wanted to believe that the health care bill was socialism or that it included death panels or that it would increase the deficits – because they thought, correctly, that it was going to mean a big flow of money down the income scale – don’t want to believe nonsense about financial reform, because they don’t like the banks or the bankers. Not wanting to believe it, they have no problem seeing that it’s a lie. With any luck, once they’ve seen that, they’ll remember that McConnell and his friends are a pack of liars.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “O what a tangled web …”

  1. There's also the question of where the business community at large stands. On the one hand, most businesses are beholden to their bankers, but on the other hand, that roughly half of all corporate profits, taken in effect as oligopoly rent by the financial industry, is an awfully tempting target.

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