Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spending Our Money

On Saturday, I posted on Billy Tauzin's retirement from the lobbyist business. He was apparently nudged out by his bosses at PHARMA for giving away too much in the negotiations with the White House on health care reform. Apparently lobbyists shouldn't be quite so liberal with the big corporate dollars, even if those dollars did buy some pretty generous concessions from the White House.

PHARMA isn't the only lobbying group in DC doing business these days. The banksters we bailed out have gone full tilt in making sure there are no bothersome regulations put into place that will save us from another financial meltdown.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Even as the financial industry has sought to keep a low public profile, some of the country's largest banks have ramped up their spending on lobbying to fight off some of the stiffest regulatory proposals pending in Congress.

Lobbying expenditures jumped 12% from 2008 to $29.8 million last year among the eight banks and private equity firms that spent the most to influence legislation, according to data compiled from disclosure forms filed with Congress.

The biggest spender was JPMorgan Chase & Co., whose lobbying budget rose 12% to $6.2 million, enough for the firm to have more than 30 lobbyists working for it. Among other banks, spending on lobbying rose 27% at Wells Fargo & Co. and 16% at Morgan Stanley.

"I have never seen such a scrum of bank lobbyists as I have in the last year -- and I've worked on quite a few bank issues over the years," said Ed Mierzwinski, a lobbyist for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a coalition of state consumer organizations. "It seems like everybody is out of work except for bank lobbyists."
[Emphasis added]

The whole point of the proposed legislation is to prevent the insane financial nonsense that drove up bonuses but drove down the economy. When the banks received hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to keep them afloat, the White House and Congress quickly discovered that the mantra "too big to fail" just did not sit well with an electorate that lost homes and jobs in the recession deepened by the shenanigans of banks and Wall Street. Once the government got the message, some attempt, albeit a half-hearted one, to rein in the financial institutions was put into play. Apparently those financial institutions didn't get the same message.

The intensified efforts on Capitol Hill have come as banks, facing unrelenting anger over the financial crisis and government bailouts, have avoided publicly resisting a push to reform the industry. Many of the firms even reduced campaign contributions by their political action committees last year. And three big banks that have faced especially heavy public criticism -- Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- cut back or held steady on lobbying last year.

But the increased spending by other firms -- as well as by industry groups -- suggests financial firms are making their voices heard more than ever.

"Despite the decline in credibility with the public, the banks appear to have increasing power" on Capitol Hill, said Travis Plunkett, a lobbyist with the Consumer Federation of America.
[Emphasis added]

Congress now has a dilemma: the mood of the electorate is, to say the least, sour and an election looms for a goodly number of those currently serving. It will be interesting to see just whom those in Congress will choose to serve.

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Anonymous larry, dfh said...

Sorry to quibble, but the purpose of the legislative effort is to look busy enough to attract all those lobbyist $$, to look busy enough to fool the voting public, but to do no actual regulating. I believe commodity futures are still OTC, and Mark-to-Market has been scrapped. Any reforms are for show, like the plastic surgery and shitty wigs that the Senate specializes in.

5:17 AM  

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