As members of Congress return to their districts and conduct town hall meetings with constituents, lawmakers who voted for the Republican budget are facing a backlash from their constituents. The budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), effectively ends Medicare, severely cuts Medicaid, cuts taxes on the rich, and lowers corporate tax rates. As ThinkProgress has reported, everyone from Ryan, to Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), to Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), to Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH), and others have faced heated questions about the GOP plan.
Slate’s Dave Weigel reports that American Action Network, a relatively new conservative front group founded by a group of Wall Street bankers, is loading up conservative activists with softball questions and talking points to bolster Republican lawmakers on the Ryan plan:Meanwhile, the American Action Network, the think tank and campaign shop run by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, is making Ryan budget talking points and questions available for conservatives who want to buck up their members.
American Action Network did not return ThinkProgress’ request for more information on the budget talking points. As we reported last year, the group was founded by investment banker Ken Langone, former Goldman Sachs executive Robert Steel, and investor and former Nixon official Fred Malek.
As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo has explained, the Republican budget also contains provisions to unwind new regulations imposed on major financial services corporations. The Ryan plan repeals provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that allow “the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to designate some firms as systemically significant and subject them to stiffer regulation” — a major reform Wall Street has lobbied aggressively to stop. The American Action Network board features a number of executives and lobbyists with a potential interest in rolling back financial regulations:
– American Action Network board member Fred Malek is chairman of the investment firm Thayer Capital Partners.
– American Action Network board member Isaac Applbaum the founding General Partner of Opus Capital.
– American Action Network board member Dylan Glenn is the Senior Vice President of Guggenheim Advisors.
– American Action Network board member C. Boyden Gray is a director of FreedomWorks and founder of a lobbying firm called Gray and Schmitz. Gray recently penned an article calling financial reform unconstitutional.
– American Action Network board member B. Wayne Hughes Jr. is the founder of American Commercial Equities Inc.
– American Action Network board member Ken Langone is the chairman of investment banking firm Invemed Associates LLC.
– American Action Network board member former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) is an executive at JPMorgan Chase.
– American Action Network board member Vin Weber is a lobbyist for a number of banks and insurance companies.
During the debate over health reform legislation, health insurance companies contracted a number of lobbying firms to bring people to congressional town halls and ask industry-friendly questions. Similarly, banks like JP Morgan and Bank of America worked through fronts like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to battle financial reform during the legislative debate last year.
Here is a copy of one of the Paul Ryan budget talking point lists distributed to conservative activists by the American Action Network.