Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: Luntz Backs the Big Lie

Republicans are on the defensive. As we enter the 2010 election cycle, Republicans are a bit worried that Americans might remember how their maniacal push to deregulate Wall Street resulted in the collapse of the global economy on their watch. They need a new message to appeal to hard-hit voters. To the rescue comes renowned Republican strategist and spinmeister Frank Luntz. Luntz, who has been reprimanded by American Association for Public Opinion Research for his misleading polling work, advises Republicans to keep it simple: 1) Never minimize the pain of those suffering from the crisis; 2) Acknowledge the need for reform that ensures it never happens again; 3) Then lie, lie, lie. The killer lie? Characterize any meaningful Wall Street reform legislation as “the big bank bailout bill.” In reality, the financial reform package passed by the Democratic House of Representatives would create a mechanism for the resolution of failing financial institutions that would shift responsibility for any future bailout from the taxpayers to the largest financial institutions themselves. These institutions would prepay into a crisis fund, much like the FDIC’s long-standing fund for failing banks. Various Republican proposals to unwind these institutions are far more likely to leave taxpayers holding the bag. Think Progress points out that Luntz’ client list includes a group of financial institutions desperate to prevent the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would crack down on their deceptive practices. Among his clients are Ameriquest, the subprime mortgage dealer, American Express, the credit card giant and Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns. The Luntz memo is a warning to Democrats. If they don’t pass tough strong structural reforms that truly prevent the next crisis and communicate that message clearly to the voters, they will be defeated by the big lie. To read the memo which was leaked to the Huffington Post, click here.