Luntz Memo on Finance Reform Draws Attention

I had an opportunty to talk briefly with Frank Luntz in preparation for his post-Legislative Reception appearance before an Indiana Chamber audience of business and legislative leaders on February 16. He promises new polling data on just what the public thinks of the business community and updated language for companies to utilize to emphasize their contribution to community well-being.

Outside of that conversation, Luntz is being credited (or disparaged, depending on your view) for his role in fighting financial regulatory reform. A recent report included the following:

Republican message guru Frank Luntz has put together a playbook to help derail financial regulatory reform.

In a 17-page memo titled, "The Language of Financial Reform," Luntz urged opponents of reform to frame the final product as filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy.

"If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the bad decisions and harmful policies by Washington bureaucrats that in many ways led to the economic crash must never be repeated," Luntz wrote. "This is your critical advantage. Washington’s incompetence is the common ground on which you can build support."

Luntz continued: "Ordinarily, calling for a new government program ‘to protect consumers’ would be extraordinary popular. But these are not ordinary times. The American people are not just saying ‘no.’ They are saying ‘hell no’ to more government agencies, more bureaucrats, and more legislation crafted by special interests."

On the specific issue of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Luntz argued that opponents should stress the high-cost of creating an additional regulatory body in addition to the damaging effects it will supposedly have on "small business owners" (as opposed to, merely, small businesses).

"Owning a small business is part of the American Dream and Congress should make it easier to be an entrepreneur," wrote Luntz. "But the Financial Reform bill and the creation of the CFPA makes it harder to be a small business owner because it will choke off credit options to small business owners."

More than 300 Hoosiers have purchased their tickets to hear Luntz in person. It will be most interesting.