In a rare move, Obama used his weekly internet and radio address to single out McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, who leads the GOP's effort to elect Republicans to the Senate in November.
Related: Obama touts financial reform
The changes sought by Democrats "have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington," Obama said in his address. "This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the leader of the Senate Republicans and the chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.
"Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed."
Asked about the meeting on CNN's State of the Union Sunday , McConnell rejected any suggestion that the meeting was used to craft ways to block financial regularly reform. Ultimately, McConnell said Cornyn was there because he will be voting on the reform legislation.
"Did the meeting take place?," CNN Chief Political Correspondent and State of the Union anchor Candy Crowley asked McConnell. "What was the conversation?"
Washington (CNN) - Congress appeared headed for a major partisan showdown over financial regulation reform, with Senate Republicans reiterating their opposition Sunday to a bill that Democrats say will prevent another Wall Street meltdown like the one that precipitated the U.S. recession.
While some officials hinted that behind-the-scenes talks could yield a deal, the rhetoric signaled deep divisions between Republicans and Democrats intended to score political points as the campaign season approaches for mid-term congressional elections in November.
Sunday, Random Sunday,
Geithner, McConnell and Warner talk financial reform, McConnell and McCain talk Crist (it’s not good) and Bill Clinton says his wife is too old (it was almost that bad)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reluctantly embraced the blatantly obvious Sunday, “…Marco Rubio is running a very effective campaign, he seems to have the lead… ”. Uh, right. As for McConnell’s pick for Florida’s GOP Senate nominee, the beleaguered Governor Charlie Crist, the minority leader says Crist, “would lose all GOP support if he were to run as an independent.”
And I don’t think you’d be wrong to believe that Sen. John McCain sounded wistful when he said of his old friend Crist, “I hope [Crist] stays a republican.” Doesn’t seem like it at the moment. Crist has until the end of the month to decide.
No Retreat Baby, No Surrender
Sen. McConnell refused to back down on his complaint that the financial industry reform bill the Democrats are expected to put on the floor next week is a “taxpayer bailout,” even if what he is referring to is a “liquidation” kitty funded by the industry, not taxpayers.
Treasury Secretary Geithner (who has also argued against the sort of pre-set liquidation pool McConnell opposes) says nonetheless McConnell is wrong calling it a taxpayer bailout. Geithner also predicts the Dems will be able to peel off some Republicans before it’s all over (but not, it should be added, before some changes are made since all 41 Senate Republicans have said they oppose the bill as currently written)
McConnell also refused to commit to a requirement for transparent and public “derivative” transactions (those incomprehensible hedging your bet deals that seem to have imploded the world economy). Following the minority leader into the studio, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) opined that he wishes McConnell would throw some specific ideas on the table.
And finally, no apologies either for a meeting McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (in charge of helping raise money for Senate races) had with Wall Street types. Asked why Cornyn, out of all the Republican colleagues he might have taken, McConnell explained that Cornyn was a Sen. from Texas who had every right to talk to people interested in financial reform legislation.
Sen. Mitch McConnell responded Sunday to a personal attack directed at him by President Obama. (Photo Credit: CNN)
Washington (CNN) – A day after President Obama singled him out for personal criticism, the top Republican in the Senate defended his party’s claim that the current version of a financial regulatory reform bill contains a mechanism to initiate a bailout of faltering Wall Street giants.
Obama used his weekly Internet and radio address to take a rare personal shot at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. McConnell “made the cynical and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bailouts – when he knows that it would do just the opposite,” the president said.
Related: Obama touts financial reform, says GOP stance 'deceptive'
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, McConnell defended the position Senate Republicans have taken on the bill.
“There is a bailout fund in the bill that was reported out of the [Senate] Banking Committee,” McConnell said, “the partisan bill that came out of committee on a party line vote. I don’t think that’s in dispute.”
Watch: McConnell responds to Obama
When reminded by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that the money in the disputed fund would be provided by banks themselves rather than taxpayers, McConnell responded, “Regardless of where the – how the money is produced, it is a bailout fund that sort of guarantees in perpetuity that we’ll be intervening once again to bail out these big firms.”
Washington (CNN) - The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command are updating military plans to strike Iran's nuclear sites, preparing up-to-date options for the president in the event he decides to take such action, an Obama administration official told CNN Sunday.
The effort has been underway for several weeks and comes as there is growing concern across the administration's national security team that the president needs fresh options ready for his approval if he were to decide on a military strike, according to the official who is familiar with the effort.
The official did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the work being conducted.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued to amp up his rhetoric against the West on Sunday, claiming that Iran is so powerful today that no country would dare attack it.
"Iran's army is so mighty today that no enemy can have a foul thought of invading Iran's territory," the Iranian leader said in a speech, according to state media.
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Charles Schumer announced Sunday that several major airlines have promised not to charge passengers for carry-on baggage.
Schumer, D-New York, said he personally contacted officials at American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and US Airways, and secured commitments from all five companies.
Two weeks ago, local carrier Spirit Airlines became the first in the United States to propose charging passengers $45 to store luggage in overhead bins.
"In the last week we have gained tremendous momentum in our effort to keep carry-on bags free," said Schumer. "We have begun to put the brakes on runaway and out-of-control airline fees. I am pleased some of the major carriers have responded to our efforts and have agreed not to charge for something that has always been free."
On Wednesday, Schumer introduced a bill that would amend the tax code to eliminate a loophole that he and four other senators say allows airlines to avoid taxes on certain fees. That effort came a day after two other senators put forward a bill that would change how the Federal Aviation Administration regulates carry-on baggage fees.
Warner said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, that the disputed fund was the last in a series of measures designed to revamp how Washington oversees Wall Street and to prevent taxpayers from again being called on to provide massive infusions of cash to financial institutions that are the pillars of the economy.
Despite Republican protests that Democrats are trying to pass the reform legislation in a partisan way and with next to no Republican input or support, Warner said the process of crafting the bill “has been very bipartisan.” He said he has been working for more than a year with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, on crafting the package of reforms.
The crafting of the legislation, the former Virginia governor said, has been driven by three goals: (1) “end ‘too big to fail,’” the notion that some financial institutions are so important to the economy that they should not be allowed to collapse under any circumstances because of the wider damage their demise would do to the economy; (2) “never have taxpayer exposure [for bailouts] again,” and (3) “make sure that we set up financial rules of the road for the 21st century.”
Washington (CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Sunday joined a cast of former presidential candidates and high-ranking Republicans to weigh in on Florida's August GOP senatorial primary between Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.
"I hope that Charlie Crist will remain a Republican," McCain said.
Crist has remained vehement that he would not bow out of the Republican primary race and run as an Independent, despite trailing Rubio by as many as 23 points in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Crist has until April 30 to decide which party's nomination he will seek.
Crist threw his support to McCain in Florida's 2008 presidential primary. McCain won the primary and Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the presidential race the next day.
McCain's comments come days after Mitt Romney announced his support for Rubio. On State of the Union with Candy Crowley this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Crist would "lose all Republican support if he were to run as an independent."