Lee Fang, writing for the fabulous Republic Report, tells the tale (my emphasis, some reparagraphing and [bracketed comments]):
[I]t’s worth noting that a primary factor in Lugar’s desperate fight for reelection stems from the power of banking lobbyists. The Indiana Republican can be viewed as a demonstration of Wall Street’s political muscle. In the words of Politico, “The banking industry is making an example of Sen. Dick Lugar.”I'm not even sure that $16 billion is more than chump change for BofA and Wells Fargo, but there you go. Even chump change is Money to lovers of Money.
In a rare loss for Wall Street, the Senate last year rejected legislation to delay a rule to limit the amount banks can charge businesses for credit card swipe fees. [Pause; absorb that. Now read on.]
The financial industry mounted an incredible lobbying campaign — as Bloomberg reported, banks hired high priced K Street hacks, used conservative blogs like RedState, and developed Beltway advertising — to pass the measure.
But a coalition of big box retailers, like Wal-Mart and Target, along with small businesses and other vendors, persuaded enough legislators from both sides of the aisle to kill the measure and limit the fees. The rule affected some $16 billion in bank profits.
Lugar was among the few Republican senators up for reelection in 2012 to vote against the banks.
A teaser — from the Bloomberg article Fang links to (and quotes):
The behind-the-scenes story of the swipe-fee war -- reconstructed from public and confidential documents and interviews with more than 30 people in Congress, regulatory agencies and industry -- shows how far the richest interest groups can go when a single decision puts billions of dollars up for grabs.
Bottom line — the bankers nailed Lugar, and the media gives the credit to the Tea Party, because hey, big media is Money too — and Money is friends with Money.
Please click on over — I've left some of the best stuff unexplained. It's a good report.
Why does it always come down to money? Because ... you know. And also because god wanted to make it easy to understand what the idiots do. Money, power and tribalism explains most of this modren world.
UPDATE: For more on why Dick Lugar is "the same as he ever was," try this from Digby; nice piece of research on his record.
(To follow on Twitter or to send links: @Gaius_Publius)