Banking institutions have increased lobbying spending six years in a row. Congress, meanwhile, is at an all time low.
The Charlotte Observer published a report earlier this week which indicates that in the first three quarters of 2011, banking institutions’ collective spending on lobbying increased 12 percent from the record $47 million it spent last year, which puts them on track to eclipse the record yet again.
As Congress wallows ineffectually in its feculence, most recently exemplified by the Supercommittee’s failure to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, their negligence leaves institutions like the Pentagon unprepared for cuts. Meanwhile they are setting records: their approval rating sits at 9 percent and we all wait for a hero, a coup d’état, or both.
At this point, Congress and the finance institutions are like yin and yang, cyclically bankrolling each other. Unregulated nirvana has not been attained yet, though, if they are increasing spending. So what doesn’t jive with Wall Street?
They are spending “in an effort to weaken or repeal new financial regulations,” said Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! “The amount they are spending has helped big banks to gain access to regulators. According to Public Citizen, Wall Street lobbyists have had more than 350 meetings with regulators to discuss weakening the Volcker Rule.”
The Volcker Rule is part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which was signed into law on July 21, 2010. A year’s worth of meetings have not repealed it yet, but the banks have their eyes on more than just Dodd-Frank.
A few million dollars is virtually insignificant compared to how much profit banking institutions reap. But if we end the banks’ line of credit through the federal reserve, they would be unable to function. This is why they want to keep it going:
A graph from Alternet.
This is the real bailout package, and it is an ongoing process that links allegedly private institutions directly to public funds. So far nobody is talking about changing this process in Congress, but in these times, with people catching on, it might happen.
The more lobbyists they have, the more assess they can incessantly smooch, which is why Wells Fargo has more than quintupled the amount of Washington-based lobbyists working for them: from 5 in 2008 to 28 in 2011. This correlates with a spending increase of 80 percent.
Tim Geitner is giving us the proverbial ‘it’s all good, baby’ speech because TARP was repaid. What that does not take into account, however, is all the loans given by the Federal Reserve on a regular basis to banks who proclaim to be the backbone of the private sector.
These are loans that they can get virtually nowhere else, and they are what allow the banks to engage in risky business.
Not that it is wrong for banks to lobby. It is difficult to divorce the idea popularized by the poignant film “Thank You For Smoking” - wining, dining egotists whose religion is the bottom line. Lobbying as a whole, however, has the potential to help anyone so long as they have money: not necessarily a bad thing.
The large banks only have money because people put money into them. If you do not think big banks and your objectives are aligned, consider credit unions.
Senator Michael Bennett (D)-Colorado put an absurdist perspective on this last week by creating a list that compares he and his colleagues’ approval rating. The U.S. turning communist (11%), the BP oil spill (16%), and polygamy (11%) all have higher approval ratings than Congress. Just for fun, he also added that Nixon had a 23 percent approval rating during Watergate.
Bottom line, the banks are increasingly sending people to Washington D.C. to buy the politicians, and the popularly elected politicians are ridiculously unpopular because of it.