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Whew! The finance industry might be taking big losses these days, but it hasn’t lost a bit of its shameless sense of entitlement.
Even before members of Congress got a peek at the Bushites’ Wall Street bailout plan, lobbyists for various financial interests were swarming Washington with demands that their clients get a piece of the $700 billion pie, preferably á la mode. For example, on the Saturday morning when the draft of the proposal was still under White House review, only banks with big holdings of investment schemes based on home mortgages were to be eligible for government rescue. But insurance industry lobbyists weaseled their way into the back rooms of power, and, by that evening, the Bush plan was magically broadened to include not just a bailout of bad mortgages, but of “any other financial instrument.”
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Likewise, the original Saturday morning text restricted bailout funds to banks based in the United States. But such foreign-based giants as UBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and Barclay’s squawked that they also had made bad mortgage-based investments in the U.S. – so, by Saturday evening, the proposal was changed to give foreign banks a place at our bailout table. This was no small concession. Swiss-based UBS, for example (whose chief lobbyist is former-Sen. Phil Gramm, the longtime economic advisor to John McCain) is in line for us taxpayers to cover as much as $20-billion worth of its bad paper.
Then there is a special cast of industry greedheads lobbying to get thiers. A gaggle of Wall Street banks and investment funds are hovering like vultures around the White House in hopes of getting more than a billion dollars in fees that the Bushites plan to dole out for “managing” the bailout. Yes, some of the very outfits that caused this mess are now trying to cash in on the cleanup!
These people keep adding stink on stink.
“Big Financiers Start to Lobby For Wider Aid,” The New York Times, September 22, 2008.
“Foreign Banks Hope An American Bailout Will Be Global,” The New York Times, September 22, 2008.