Did Jane Norton actually read the Luntz bailout memo?

U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton spoke for about a minute with ABC News Top Line Tuesday about Wall Street financial regulatory legislation, which Republicans had lined up to oppose. She said roughly four sentences on the legislation, depending on how you punctuate, yet she worked the word “bailout” into the first two sentences. The legislation has nothing to do with bailouts, not bank bailouts, not taxpayer bailouts, no kind of bailouts. Where did she get that word from? She got it, one way or another, from GOP strategist Frank Luntz, who dreamed it up in the fall.

In a memo to GOP leaders about any coming financial regulation, he wrote: “Frankly, the single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout.” Did Norton read the memo?

Memo Man Frank Luntz

Writing on the fact that anti-regulation GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell were opposing the legislation last week by calling it a “big bank bailout,” TPM revealed that it had unearthed the Luntz memo behind the talking point.

These are perhaps the Republican leadership’s strongest statement of opposition to the Democrats’ financial reform bill yet. But for those who followed the financial regulatory reform fight from its earliest days last year, these words might ring a bell. They come, almost verbatim, from a strategy memo authored by Republican strategist Frank Luntz.

“[A] vote in favor of creating a permanent bailout fund of private companies is like committing political hari-kari,” wrote Luntz early this year. “Frankly, the single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout.”

Democrats cringed when they heard this phony line. “Bailout fund?” said Virginia’s Sen. Mark Warner, who sardonically referenced the last great GOP talking point. This is no bailout fund. The banks are paying for their own real life “death panels,” he said.

The fund that comes with the legislation is based on a Republican idea. The new law would require major Wall Street institutions themselves to contribute to a fund that would be used to dismantle the banks should they fail. The point of the legislation is to prevent taxpayers from ever again paying for high-flying Wall Street risk-taking.

Here’s Norton:

Well, I don’t think that the Democrat plan gets at the goal. And the first goal is to protect the American taxpayers from bailouts and subsidies. The second thing that our plan should do is to prevent another financial crisis But most importantly, we need an effective system to ensure, a bankruptcy system, so that large financial institutions that fail have a system rather than taxpayer bailouts.

Did Norton actually read the Luntz memo or was the line transmitted organically? “Big bank bailout” was the new “government takeover” this week. Now Republicans are apparently coming over to the side of at least minimal regulation.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic
jtomasic@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 |

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