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Wall Street reform. How hard could it be for the US Senate to do this job?
After all, terms like “Wall Street banker,” “hedge fund operator,” and “derivatives speculator” are curse words among the general public. These are the narcissistic hiesters who wrecked our economy, yet they’ve gotten away with a multitrillion-dollar bailout for their banks and multimillion-dollar bonuses for themselves. So passing a bill to stop such thievery in the future seems like something even a senator could do.
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But after months and months, the financial regulatory reform bill is staggering out of the senate as a hodgepodge of compromises, loopholes, and fiendishly convoluted amendments. It reads like something that bankers, operators, and speculators themselves patched together to avoid reform.
That’s because it largely is. This bill drew industry lobbyists like road kill draws vultures. Not just a lot of lobbyists, but the “connected ones” – those high-salaried K-Streeters who have insider access because… well, because they are insiders.
A recent report written by the Public Accountability Institute, reveals that the six biggest Wall Street banks alone hired 243 lobbyists who previously held top positions in government, including 54 former staffers to the Senate and House committees now handling the reform bill. Titled, “Big Bank Takeover,” the report notes that 16 of these Congress-to-K-Street, revolving-door lobbyists come from the staff of former-Sen. Trent Lott, who previously was the Republican Leader of the Senate, and former-Rep. Dick Gephardt, who previously was the Democratic leader in the House. And, just to put the icing on this rich cake, both Lott and Gephardt are also now lobbying for the banks.
For more on how reform became deform, go to an innovative website at littlesis.org.
“The Senate at the Finish Line,” The New York Times, May 19, 2010.
“The Truth About the Big Banks’ Unprecedented Lobbying Avalanche,” www.alternet.org, May 13, 2010.
“Big banks hire D.C. heavyweights,” www.politico.com, May 11, 2010.
“Big Bank Takeover,” www.ourfuture.org