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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Scott Brown Watch: financial reform

It's ironic that our junior senator had 13 minutes on Face the Nation yesterday. It does seem that he is getting close to using up his fame allocation. And with his GOP talking points script, we should probably be grateful.

"Independent Republican" Scott Brown didn't have a lot of time to study up after his Massachusetts GOP convention stop Saturday. So he fell in line with the 40 other Republican senators in parroting talking points that leave a thinking person scratching his or her head.

Starting with the declaration that reforming Wall Street. the people who brought you the Great Recession, is actually a bailout of the boys at Goldman Sachs and Citibank. The proof? A provision that creates a $50 billion fund -- paid for by the financial services industry -- to deal with crises like the ones that swallowed our retirement accounts.

Brown's parroting of talking points was crystal clear in his declaration that it was actually Barack Obama and the president's "political arm" taking over the debate. That declaration was almost a world for word match of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's declaration that Obama was "trying to politicize the issue."

I see, bringing 41 people of one political party into lockstep over a bill proposed by the other political party is not politics. No wonder three-quarters of the American public doesn't trust Congress.

But back to #41.

Brown offered a claim that the reform bill -- which would add regulation to the unfathomable thicket of derivatives trading, among other things -- would actually create a "big web" of investing rules. Um, that's the point after the lack of rules allowed financiers to play roulette with our money.

And he also offered up an twisted claim that the bill would cost Massachusetts jobs.
The regulation, the bill that’s being proposed by the banking chairman, dramatically affects businesses, Mutual, for example, Liberty Mutual, Mass Mutual,’’ Brown said. “These folks are caught in that regulation as well. It’s going to cost potentially 25,000 to 35,000 jobs.’’

“Well, now, wait a minute, Senator,’’ [Face the Nation host Bob] Schieffer said. “How can you say that?’’

“Well, I can say it very clearly because the regulations that are — they’re trying to reel in with some of the risky hedging that bets are doing also affects companies like I just described in Massachusetts,’’ Brown said.

So in one sentence Brown concedes the bill would rein in the "risky hedging that bets" which caused the crisis, and that it would affect insurance companies and not banks. Oh, and the job losses would stem from paying into the bailout pool over the next decade so taxpayers don't have to foot the bill. No wonder a spokesman for Mass Mutual is distancing the company from Brown's made-up numbers.

One thing Brown does truly seem to be good at is positioning himself firmly on both sides of the fence. After announcing his fealty to McConnell's talking points, he declared it was still possible he could support a compromise.

Brown's erratic performance suggests he should read the bill and not the talking points. Or George Orwell's 1984. Although he would have a future as a spokesman in the Ministry of Truth.

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