Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), still scrambling to save his career, told voters in Kentucky last night about his disdain for “Dodd/Frank.” The longtime senator quickly added, “If you don’t know what that is, it’s Obamacare for banks.”
It’s an increasingly common phrase, especially from McConnell.
McConnell attacked the Dodd/Frank financial reform bill in further audio obtained by this week by Windsor, calling it “Obamacare for banks.”McConnell said he would “definitely” defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, calling it “the biggest part of the Dodd/Frank bill.”
It’s not just the Minority Leader, either. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also blasted Dodd/Frank this week. “If you don’t know what that is, it’s Obamacare for banks,” the failed vice presidential candidate complained.
For those unfamiliar with the law, “Dodd/Frank” is a shorthand label for the financial regulatory reform bill approved by lawmakers in 2010, applying new safeguards and restrictions on Wall Street in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. The bill’s principal authors were then-Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and then-Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).
True to form, Republican lawmakers, who reject nearly all regulations of the financial industry on ideological grounds, strongly opposed Wall Street reform when it was under consideration, and continue to complain incessantly about it four years later.
But it’s worth pausing to appreciate exactly what GOP leaders mean when they condemn the law as “Obamacare for banks.”
As Adam Serwer joked last night, “I guess ‘Obamacare for banks’ workshopped better than ‘let predatory lenders take you for everything.’” That’s funny, but it’s also true – McConnell, Ryan, and much of their Republican brethren remain absolutely convinced that current federal laws are simply too mean to Wall Street. Sure, loose regulations of the financial industry helped create the global economic crash six years ago, GOP leaders sometimes concede, but that’s hardly a reason to avoid loose regulations of the financial industry going forward.
In other words, Republicans believe, right now, that Congress should roll back efforts to prevent Wall Street recklessness. The GOP believes this agenda can be made politically palatable by throwing the word “Obamacare” in there, hoping voters just aren’t knowledgeable enough to know the difference.
Indeed, the whole pitch is predicated on assumptions of voter ignorance. Republicans assume the public won’t mind if they go easier on Wall Street, the public won’t know that Dodd/Frank and the Affordable Care Act have very little in common, and that the public won’t realize that “Obamacare” is actually working quite well.
On the other hand, Michael Grunwald suggested the GOP may be onto something: “Actually, Dodd-Frank sort of is Obamacare for banks. It provides better insurance in case they get very sick.”
McConnell and Ryan still want to take that insurance away.