Political Influence Slows Action

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The idea that overt political influence by large organizations like the banking industry, and the larger financial services industry, has, and is, blocking serious action in the legislative branch and executive agencies is spreading. As is the solution: more transparency. Here’s Bloomberg columnist Michael Sesit:

Finance companies — commercial and investment banks, insurers, investment-management companies, private-equity firms and hedge funds — have spent fortunes on lobbying efforts and campaign contributions, purchasing access, good will and clout.

The result has often been slack regulation and poor discipline to the detriment of the public, markets and, as has recently been shown, the institutions themselves. Look at how lawmakers barred the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from regulating derivatives.

Just restricting the amount of money spent on elections won’t solve the problem of influence-peddling. But it would help to create a fairer system.

The pervasive role of lobbyists also needs to be curtailed. What’s needed is much more transparency in their activities. For ethics restrictions to work, “there must be an open, publicly accessible reporting system where every executive-branch appointee records meetings with registered lobbyists during and after working hours, both inside and outside the office,” former U.S. attorney Whitney North Seymour Jr., wrote last month in a letter to the New York Times.

Spot on. Even go a step further and have the same rules apply to senators, congressmen, their staffs and Congressional- committee staffs.

The message is clear: The U.S. government isn’t for sale.

(Emphasis added.) Amen to that.

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