The current debate surrounding the upcoming legislation designed to reform our financial system is a terrific barometer of our current political environment. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, has gotten all 41 Republican senators to sign a letter in opposition to the current legislation authored by Senator Dodd, Chairman of the Banking Committee. If that wasn’t enough, rumors have circulated that the Republicans may filibuster the bill, preventing it from even coming to a vote. Partisanship has become so severe in this country that our parties can’t even look at a catastrophe and agree that there needs to be solutions and safety measures imposed. [Insert analogy]
It is mindboggling that only two years after this country was within a whisker of a depression, there isn’t one Republican senator who has the courage to break party lines and actually help to improve the very system that caused this disaster that we are still digging ourselves out of.
Is the financial reform bill, as currently written, perfect? No. Like health care, is it at least a step in the right direction? Yes.
The Senate Minority Leader claims that the current financial reform bill would lead to “future bank bailouts”, putting the tax payer on the line. This current Republican battle cry, like most of their arguments, fails to get off the ground. This current fallacy being peddled is designed to distract the public from the real issue at hand: preventing a future economic disaster. But truth and logic play little part in our political discourse today. The GOP understands that and has proven, time and again, they are so much better at marketing issues than the Democrats. They have figured out that facts don’t really matter, triggering emotions in people, now that’s how you persuade them. The trick is coming up with a word or phrase that will scare people. Under Bush Jr., ‘terrorism’ was the key that opened any door the Republicans wished. With health care reform it was ‘socialism’. Now, with financial reform, ‘bailouts’ will be the trigger word. And, of course, some people will hear this claim and believe it.
Because there is no real debate or tough questions posed by the press in this country, Republican politicians needn’t worry about backing up assertions with reason or facts. Even on so-called ‘serious news shows’ there never is a follow-up question to absurd statements. “How did you come up with that conclusion, Senator McConnell? Show me the language and the analysis that leads you to believe financial reform will lead to future bank bailouts.”
The point is this: There is nothing wrong with disagreement and debate, but when one side’s argument isn’t even remotely scraping the realm of coherence, the country suffers. If Republicans want to be opposed to Democratic bills, fine—but, at least have a thoughtful, well reasoned argument.