Just when you thought it was safe to look at your 401(k) balance again, a new report from National People’s Action and the Campaign for America’s Future reveals that the pro-big bank deregulators who ruined our economy in government are now working for K Street lobby firms pressing to make the damage even worse.
The kicker is, as much as we might like to blame this mess solely on Republicans, it’s Democrats who picked up Reagan’s baton of deregulation. Robert Rubin and the Clinton Administration laid the groundwork for Wall Street to swallow Main Street whole. And now the top K Street lobbying firm doing big banks’ bidding is not run by a former Tom Delay or Mitch McConnell aid — it’s run by Steve Elmendorf, former chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Dick Gephardt. And Elmendorf’s team includes former top staffers to Democrats including Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Paul Sarbanes.
Both parties should be ashamed. Unlike Arizona cops, the revolving door between K Street and Capitol Hill knows no color. Red, blue, elephant, donkey — come one, come all to the K Street carnival! Whatever ethical guilt you might feel will be more than offset by the generous pay package!
Now, beltway lobbying is generally a smarmy enterprise, but it’s particularly vile in the case of the six biggest banks scrambling to maintain their “too big to fail” protections at the expense of taxpayers. Just for perspective, the American Cancer Society — which lobbies Congress for funding to fight cancer — employs just ten lobbyists. To fight all cancer. Ten lobbyists total. Citigroup alone has 55 “revolving-door lobbyists” who came from Congress or other federal agencies — in addition to all the other lobbyists working for the bank. JPMorgan Chase has 32 revolving-door lobbyists; Morgan Stanley has 19; Wells Fargo 14; Bank of America 12. And on top of that they pay millions to lobbying firms and trade associations that also have lobbyists (a large proportion of those also the revolving-door type).
The ten American Cancer Society lobbyists seek to alleviate cancer. The hundreds of big bank lobbyists want to spread their cancerous greed that is eating away at our economy.
On Monday, May 17, thousands of everyday Americans from across the country will take to K Street to condemn the cozy relationship between Wall Street and Washington. Lobbyists and Congress are in bed with the banks, but the American people are the ones getting screwed. It’s time to shut the revolving door, press Congressional candidates to stop taking contributions from big banks and do what’s right for taxpayers, not Wall Street.
Hasn’t our broken system broken enough families already? Corruption and greed had their chance and only made our economy worse. Let’s hold Congress accountable, cut the cord to Wall Street and K Street and get our economy working for working people.