Message failure

Sen. Dick Durbin’s amendment limiting credit card fees is a good example of the difficulties Republicans are still facing.  With ten moderate Democrats lined up to oppose the amendment, this is one of several amendments that could have been scuttled – if the GOP understood its own stance on financial reform.

In the wake of the health care battle, Republicans claimed victory in the message war.  There’s no such victory in the current financial reform debate.  There are answers to the Democrats’ strategy of punishing a Wall Street bogeyman for the current economic doldrums.  Republicans are running the equivalent of a prevent defense – assuming that big electoral gains are in the bag, they remain fearful of becoming the party of big business – so despite some lip service about offering alternatives, everyone is calling for more regulation in varying degrees.  And when an amendment like Durbin’s pops up, it passes 64-33 – with no one asking in any formidable way, why it is that the US Senate is deciding what the First Bank and Trust of Podunk gets to charge businesses for credit card transactions.

Reason’s Matt Welch outlines the pitfalls in the legislation-as-panacea philosophy, and the American public seems ready for the hard truth that those are indeed cherry blossoms on the Potomac and not money trees.  Yet “Wall Street reform” chugs along toward passage.

Bill Parcells liked to say that the only thing the prevent defense prevents is victories.  That’s especially true when you’re already behind on the scoreboard.

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