WE NEED TO TELL THOSE WHO SAY OUR MONEY IS NONE OF OUR BUSINESS THAT THEY'RE WRONG
The entire financial sector (finance, insurance, real estate) drowned political candidates in campaign contributions, spending more than $1.7 billion in federal elections from 1998-2008As Jesse also added:
* * *
During the decade-long period:
* Commercial banks spent more than $154 million on campaign contributions, while investing $383 million in officially registered lobbying;
* Accounting firms spent $81 million on campaign contributions and $122 million on lobbying;
* Insurance companies donated more than $220 million and spent more than $1.1 billion on lobbying; and
* Securities firms invested more than $512 million in campaign contributions, and an additional nearly $600 million in lobbying. Hedge funds, a subcategory of the securities industry, spent $34 million on campaign contributions (about half in the 2008 election cycle); and $20 million on lobbying. Private equity firms, also a subcategory of the securities industry, contributed $58 million to federal candidates and spent $43 million on lobbying.
* * *
A great many of those lobbyists entered and exited through the revolving door connecting the lobbying world with government. Surveying only 20 leading firms in the financial sector (none from the insurance industry or real estate), we found that 142 industry lobbyists during the period 1998-2008 had formerly worked as "covered officials" in the government. "Covered officials" are top officials in the executive branch (most political appointees, from members of the cabinet to directors of bureaus embedded in agencies), Members of Congress, and congressional staff.
Nothing evidences the revolving door -- or Wall Street's direct influence over policymaking -- more than the stream of Goldman Sachs expatriates who left the Wall Street goliath, spun through the revolving door, and emerged to hold top regulatory positions. Topping the list, of course, are former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, both of whom had served as chair of Goldman Sachs before entering government. Goldman continues to be well represented in government, with among others, Gary Gensler, President Obama's pick to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Mark Patterson, a former Goldman lobbyist now serving as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
All of this awesome influence buying has enabled Wall Street to establish the framework for debates in Washington, and to obtain very specific deregulatory actions, with devastating consequences.
The problem continues . . . . The carriers of the infection are still at work. The system is distorted, sick, incapable of self-cure. Feeding intravenous liquidity to obtain the appearance of health will not work, only allow the disease to progress. Strong medicine is required. We will have no recovery until we have reform. We will have no reform until the banks are restrained, and balance is restored. The looting of the public Treasury will continue while the Congress and the Executive take their direction from Wall Street.The problem is frighteningly simple, though the solutions will be very difficult, both in terms of implementation as well as commitment. In a nation where moneyed interests can influence politicians, those with the most money will have the greatest influence. And we're seeing that right now. A series of outrageous policies, all of them financed by the American people to bail out a microscopic sliver at the very top of the demographic pyramid, carried out daily without any concern for the opinion of the population.
We're no longer dominated by the military-industrial complex, but by the Financial Complex. And just as (relatively) recent history has shown that a grassroots movement can eventually end unpopular wars, or remove especially loathsome political regimes from power, we have to educate ourselves as to what's happening. We have to understand and admit what's happening.
And then keep making noise. A lot of it. If this issue continues to catch fire at the rate it has lately, Obama is gonna fire Geithner and maybe Summers too. If we really stay loud, maybe Bernanke goes too. And if that goes down, I suspect Obama will replace them with adults. Volcker and others of his quality and responsibility if we're really lucky.
At bottom, all the elected officials know that if & when the American people finally get wise and get angry, no amount of lobbyist money will buy the votes to prevent them from getting tossed out on their asses. Think '32. '80. '94. '06 and '08. We all need to get wise and stay loud.
There's nothing else to do.