In 2008, when it mattered to oppose bank bailouts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, led the push to steer the spigot of federal dollars into the vaults of the biggest speculators on Wall Street.
While a number of Democrats and Republicans objected to the no-strings-attached bailout, McConnell objected to placing even the most minimal controls on the raiding of the national treasury. The Kentuckian even appeared with Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut to talk up the bailout legislation.
Now, however, McConnell is leading the fight to block even the tepid regulatory reforms proposed by Dodd.
McConnell says the proposed reforms would "allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks."
But didn’t McConnell back bailouts before he opposed them?
So what’s going on?
Has McConnell made a sincere shift?
McConnell’s trying to sound like a populist while he does what he always does: Represent Wall Street biggest banks.
Let’s turn to the people who know the senator best for an explanation.
No Kentucky newspaper has been more dogged when it comes to reporting on, examining and investigating McConnell during his decades of service to Wall Street than the Lexington Herald-Leader.
"McConnell’s calculus is pretty obvious," argues the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page of the Herald-Leader, which says that the state’s senior senator is racing "to big banks’ rescue."
"The high-stakes gamblers on Wall Street, luxuriating again in big bonuses, don’t want any new oversight or regulation. Why would they, knowing that the government would have to bail them out again if their trading of worthless financial instruments goes bust and threatens to bring on the next Great Depression?" explains the newspaper. "McConnell, unabashedly courting Wall Street bankers for political money, is happy to scratch their backs if they’ll scratch his."
There is nothing sincere about McConnell’s opposition.
He’s just delivering for his corporate paymasters.
Did McConnell go bad?
He’s been bad for a long time.
A six-month examination of McConnell’s Senate tenure by the Herald-Leader reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of industry insiders, consumer advocates and political observers. What was the determination about the senator? That there is a clear and constant "nexus between his actions and his donors’ agendas."
Of McConnell, the paper wrote in 2006: "He pushes the government to help cigarette makers, Las Vegas casinos, the pharmaceutical industry, credit card lenders, coal mine owners and others."
Is that just “the liberal media” talking?
What sort of sources did the Herald-Leader find?
Marshall Whitman, who has represented the Christian Coalition and other conservative groups on Capitol Hill, said of McConnell: "He’s completely dogged in his pursuit of money. That’s his great love, above everything else."