Afternoon links

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Super Congress=Super Lobbying Opportunity: National Journal lists all the ways in which DC lobbyists will attempt to exert influence on the Joint Committee on the Debt, also known as the Super Congress (many of Sunlight’s thoughts on the group are here). NJ reports: “After months spent watching the debt-limit debate from the sidelines, Washington’s lobbyists are racing to understand—and figure out how to influence—the newly created committee charged with slashing $1.5 trillion in federal spending by the end of the year.:

But they contribute so much to U.S. politics: William Cohan, writing at Bloomberg.com, offers his assessment of the moral rot on Wall Street by outlining some of the more egregious behavior of financial firms over the past decade. He also takes a shot at the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: “…Wall Street, in its current form, is a corrupt enterprise in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul, a task that the year-old Dodd-Frank law, for all its verbosity, barely attempts”. Cohan also notes, regrettably without offering much detail, the cozy relationship between Wall Street and Washington. Key bit:

…there might well have been a very different outcome to the events of 2007 and 2008 had Wall Street behaved as if it had genuine accountability for its actions, as it did when firms were private partnerships where stakeholders had their net worth on the line. Instead, the financial industry figured it would get bailed out by its friends in Washington because it was too interconnected to be allowed to fail.

That Wall Street executives have been able to avoid any shred of responsibility for their actions in the years leading up to the crisis speaks volumes not only about an abject ethical deterioration but also about the unhealthy alliance that exists between the powerful in Washington and their patrons in New York. Our collective failure to demand redress against a Wall Street culture that remains out of control is one of the more troubling facts of life in America today.

The finance, insurance and real estate sector is already making a heavy investment in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, about half of which comes from Securities and Investment firms.

Perils of predictions: From ZeroHedge.com comes good news: The United States, according to the Congressional Budget Office, has a net budget surplus of $889 billion. Unfortunately, that figure is an estimate based on baseline budgeting, revenue and economic predictions made in 2001. What’s the line about forward looking statements, and past performance not being an indicator of future success? In any case, it’s something to keep in mind when Democrats and Republicans roll out figures like $2 trillion or $4 trillion in cuts–your experience may differ.

Perils of predictions (II): Peter Orszag, formerly head of the Office and Management and Budget now trying to eke out a living as a columnist at Bloomberg (his moonlighting as CitiGroup’s vice chairman of global banking no doubt helps pay the bills) writes about Standard and Poor’s downgrading of U.S. Treasury debt. He notes that, “Those who in January were predicting growth of 4 percent or more for 2011 did not sufficiently appreciate the evidence from the economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that what most often comes after a systemic financial collapse is a decade of weak growth.” He calls for allowing all of the “Bush tax cuts” (which Congress and the White House extended for two years in 2010) to expire.

Prayer prelude for Perry? Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s successful prayer meeting at Reliant Stadium receives a positive response. The Austin American Statesman reports that while the prayer service was under way, Perry’s bundlers were receiving instructions on how to raise contributions for federal campaigns. Dig into the governor’s campaign contribution data at Transparency Data.

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