by Deb Cupples | Most of us watched how the no-strings-attached bank-bailouts (TARP) worked. Most of us have read articles about or looked at campaign-finance data over the years. Thus, I really don't need to ask for whom has our government been working? because the answer has been obvious for so long.
Frankly, I just couldn't conjure up another title. As you read this post, remember that 1) our nation's economy is still bad; 2) our unemployment rate is still high; and 3) bank executives are still looking for ways to raise your credit-card interest rates, even if you pay on time.
And apparently, Congress is willing to let them do it. No surprise: for years, Congress has been willing to let them do pretty much whatever they wanted. At any rate, via Memeorandum, the Washington Post reports:
"Commercial banks and high-flying investment firms have shifted their political contributions toward Republicans in recent months amid harsh rhetoric from Democrats about fat bank profits, generous bonuses and stingy lending policies on Wall Street.
"The wealthy securities and investment industry, for example, went from giving 2 to 1 to Democrats at the start of 2009 to providing almost half of its donations to Republicans by the end of the year, according to new data compiled for The Washington Post by the Center for Responsive Politics.
"Commercial banks and their employees also returned to their traditional tilt in favor of the GOP after a brief dalliance with Democrats, giving nearly twice as much to Republicans during the last three months of 2009, the data show. At the same time, total political donations by the major banks and investment houses alike dropped in the waning months of that year...."
"Republicans, meanwhile, are soliciting Wall Street for donations with the argument that Democratic proposals would hurt the bottom lines of major financial institutions. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters this month that he was urging Wall Street executives to 'help our team' oppose the 'bizarre policies' coming out of the Obama administration.
I must interject. Is there a more blatant example of an industry seeking to buy politicians -- and our politicians' willingness to play ball? Did millions of American voters send people to Congress to protect a few thousand financial-industry executives' personal wealth at our expense? the Washington Post continues:
"One senior Republican staff member on Capitol Hill, who discussed contributions on the condition of anonymity, said: 'Democrats in Washington are clearly trying to move legislation that would be very damaging to that industry. It was almost like there was a free ride time. But now they're starting to see the real negative impact of Democratic proposals.'
"Obama had unusually strong backing from Wall Street for a Democratic presidential candidate. He raised more than $18 million from bank and brokerage employees, for example, compared with rival John McCain's $10 million. (Obama did not accept money from PACs.) Prominent among Obama's bundlers -- individuals who raised at least $50,000 -- were private equity executives and hedge fund titans, including billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin of Citadel Investment Group, who had previously backed Republicans.
"But Obama soon encountered stiff opposition from the financial industry -- and some fellow Democrats -- over proposals to curb executive pay, tighten rules on financial derivatives and create an agency to protect consumers of mortgages, credit cards and other financial products. Financial executives have also bristled at the president's increasingly populist tone over the past year, including his quip in December that he did not run for office to help 'fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.'"The industry has responded with its own change in attitude, according to contribution data and interviews. For some prominent executives, the final straw came in January, when Obama proposed a fee on big banks to recoup losses from the government's $700 billion program to bail out financial firms. When the president followed up a few days later with another plan to restrict the growth of large banks, some on Wall Street said they regretted their earlier support. "I'm not voting for him again," one said.
"Still, others said they would not switch alliances just yet. "I understand people are not happy about this. Wall Street did pour a lot of money into the campaign, some of which I solicited," said one Wall Street executive and Democratic bundler, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. 'Having said that, we're kind of responsible for a lot of what went down.'"
Yeah, except not a whole lot has actually "gone down" in terms of protecting hundreds of millions of Americans against the relatively few individuals who make out like bandits in the financial industry.
Mostly, it was just words -- on the part of politicians who wanted voters to think that said politicians were actually fighting against abuses by the financial industry. Smoke and mirrors. Shuck and Jive. Sticks and stones.
Jon Stewart summed it up well back in January:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Clusterf#@k to the Poor House - Wall Street Bonuses|
Yes, this year and last, members of a congressional committee or two publicly spoke some harsh words against bank execs who had taken tax dollars back in 2008 yet essentially looted their companies in order to pay themselves huge bonuses. They did it again in 2009.How the bank bailouts went down in 2008 gave us a pretty good picture of what was to come and who controlled our politicians. Remember? Sooo many congressmen (yes, including Democrats) voted to funnel billions upon billions of tax dollars -- with no strings attached -- to the very people who had driven our financial system and our nation's economy into a ditch.
Does anyone have any ideas for a solution? Me, I'm fresh out.