Sunrise (4/12/11)

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BUDGET DEAL TESTS TRANSPARENCY PROMISE

The Hill: “The eleventh-hour budget deal struck late last week poses a challenge for the promises that House Republicans made to increase transparency. … Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has scheduled a vote on the final spending bill for Wednesday, but as of Monday evening, the legislation hadn’t been released publicly. … The delay complicated efforts by the party leadership to assess support for the bipartisan deal. With a government shutdown looming again on Friday, officials in both parties expect the eventual bill to pass the House and Senate. But after a 2010 election campaign in which Republicans tarred Democrats for approving complex legislation they hadn’t read, lawmakers are hesitant to commit to the budget agreement without examining the fine print.”

WASHINGTON-WALL ST. CORRIDOR

NY Mag: “The close alliance among Wall Street and the economics departments of the major universities and the West Wing of the White House is the military-industrial complex of our time. That it has an effect on our governance is beyond question. How pernicious and distorting these effects are, how cynical many of its participants might be, and what might be done to change the system are being fiercely debated in Washington. … In fact, to the layperson, the most surprising thing might be the degree to which people like Peter Orszag see the government and Wall Street as, essentially, parts of the same industry. Aside from some bad publicity, going from one to the other is not a leap at all, not any kind of sellout, but a natural progression for a member in good standing of the super­meritocracy like Peter Orszag. In this sense, the last two years have been confusing for these people, because you need public servants who understand capital markets, and who understands markets better than Wall Street? “If you think that someone’s past work on Wall Street disqualifies them from playing a role in something as complex as government, you’ll essentially have people who have no understanding how financial markets operate,” a former senior Goldman Sachs partner who spent time in Washington told me. “That’s a dangerous and scary thing.” … But another way of looking at this is that Wall Street has Washington over a barrel—and the values of one can’t help but be the values of the other. Even in Democratic administrations like the current one, once and future Wall Streeters are in position to pull the teeth out of regulations—for what they see as perfectly sensible, perfectly ordinary reasons. There’s no need to cue the scary music; it’s not a conspiracy. It’s just that having lived in the same worlds, read the same textbooks, imbibed the same maxims, been tutored by the same mentors, attended the same confabs in Aspen and Davos—and, of course, been paid with checks from the same bank accounts—they naturally think the same thoughts. To these people, the way things are done is, more or less, the way they have to be done. To change the system, you have to change the people; but the people are the only ones who know how the system works.”

STUPAK SPINS

NYT: “Bart Stupak has become the latest lawmaker — and one of the biggest names — among those who left Congress last year to move to a lobbying job. Venable LLP, a Washington law firm and lobbying shop, announced that it had signed him to work on legislative and government affairs. … Mr. Stupak, a Michigan Democrat who was a critical swing vote on President Obama’s health care plan last year, said in an interview that he intended to focus on representing clients involved in health care, energy, telecommunications and other issues he worked on in Congress. Venable said he would bring “immeasurable skill and insight” to the firm’s work on Capitol Hill.”

NO RECESSION TO SEE HERE

TIME: “Since 2000, the financial services industry’s spending on federal lobbying rose 102%, to $472.9 million last year, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks lobbying. Spending by the pharmaceutical and health-products industries, meanwhile, rose 139%, to $240.3 million last year. The electric utilities industry increased its spending by 139%, to $191 million, while the oil and gas industry raised its spending by 184%, to $146.5 million, last year. Both increases can be attributed in part to the climate-change debate. And business groups in general got busier in the Obama era as well. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington’s wealthiest lobbying outfit, and the Business Roundtable, which represents corporate CEOs helped push spending in business associations’ sector up 203%, to $170 million, last year. “It’s the kind of expansion that any industry would have envied during that very dark period,” says Dave Levinthal, editor of opensecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics’ blog.”

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