Wall Street Lobbyists Pine For Behind The Scenes Deals


Last week, Ezra Klein wrote a post on how members of both parties are still running around raising money from Wall Street for their campaigns. This despite the obvious loathing that the public has for everything finance-related. Klein wrote:

Both parties, in fact, know the risks and are choosing to take the hit rather than forgo the cash. This isn’t because they love being attacked or even think that the toxicity of Wall Street is overstated. It’s because, to use a metaphor that’s in vogue right now, our system of campaign finance turns politicians into vampire squids wrapped around the wallets of the rich, relentlessly jamming their blood funnels into anything that smells like money.

And for the past twenty years there’s been no better smell of money than the one eminating from Wall Street. As my colleague Larry Makinson pointed out back in 2008, “the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) industries that collectively are at the center of the current crisis are the single largest sector–by far–of all the major economic and interest groupings that give campaign contributions to federal politicians.”

If you needed any confirmation of this, see the graphic that was put together for Larry’s nearly two year old post:

Lawmakers can’t avoid raising money from the finance sector. It’s where the majority of campaign contributions come from.

Amazingly, despite the fundraising and the lobbying and the sheer volume of contributions, the financial sector is not getting what they want. In fact, they may be facing much more severe reforms after the bill goes through the amendment process.

The Washington Post offers this sometimes hilarious article loaded with anonymous statements from angst-ridden finance sector lobbyists unhappy that their puppet strings have been severed.

Lawmakers from both parties have been eager to excoriate Wall Street. But industry lobbyists warn that populist proposals to shrink, break up or otherwise shackle some of the giants of the financial world could do more harm than good to the economy. These advocates say that stiff regulation could stifle the flow of credit, undermine American competitiveness in global markets and cost jobs.

Among the terms that lobbyists used to describe elements of the legislation: “Draconian.” “Crazy.” “Insanely unproductive.”

They had expected the most vexing provisions in the bill sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the banking committee, to be scratched by now, or at least scaled back.

These lobbyists had hoped that Dodd and Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, would have privately hammered out a bipartisan deal months ago. It didn’t happen. Then Dodd and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) gave it a whirl. No dice.

Of course, the lobbyists don’t like the open process that an actual Senate floor debate provides. Instead, they pine for the behind the scenes deal-making that Americans know and really don’t love:

Looking past the Senate debate, industry lobbyists say they hope Frank and the Obama administration can help remove some of the most objectionable provisions that survive the Senate.

“They’ve got to get this thing off the [Senate] floor and into a reasonable, behind the scenes” discussion, said one lobbyist. “Let’s have a few wise fathers sit around the table in some quiet room” and work out the details.

Yes, “‘a reasonable, behind the scenes’ discussion.” The American people loved that when it happened during the health care debate. This time they’ll enjoy it even more.