During these times when we are bombarded with the news about the debt ceiling/taxes/spending cut negotiations aimed at screwing ordinary Americans, it is easy to forget that Congress has other work to do aimed at screwing ordinary Americans. Busy, busy, busy. So much screwing to do, so little time in which to do it.
Newsweek has the familiar story in The Billion-Dollar Heist: How the financial industry is buying off Washington—and killing reform. We know this narrative by heart—an army of bank lobbyists, a flood of bribes.
Ever since the law’s passage, those same “powerful interest groups” who opposed Dodd-Frank have been trying to prevent it from taking effect.
As written, the law delayed implementation of most of its new rules for at least 12 months so regulators would have time to hammer out the finer points of the 2,319-page bill.
But that delay has also provided an opening to banks and other financial institutions seeking to defang the law. “Just because we lost that round,” says Cam Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, which spent $1 million in the first three months of this year to lobby against implementation, “doesn’t mean we just give up. Congress changes its mind all the time.”...
Follow the money.
The story of this evisceration is largely one of money—the tens of billions of dollars in profits that banks and other financial institutions stand to lose if Dodd-Frank is implemented, and the astonishing sums they’re spending to squash it. The industry paid lobbyists $1.3 billion in 2009 and through the first three months of 2010, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which added up the spending by the 850 businesses and trade groups fighting financial reform. Many of these same businesses are now spending as much money, if not more, to lobby for curbs on the new law.
The Financial Services Roundtable, for instance, is on pace to spend $10 million on lobbying in 2011, based on its spending the first few months of this year. That’s well above the $7.5 million that the trade association, which represents most of the country’s largest financial firms, spent in 2010. The American Bankers Association is expected to beat its $7.5 million spent last year, based on first-quarter-2011 numbers. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are on track to match last year’s lobbying spending: $7 million and $5 million, respectively. Wells Fargo, which spent $5 million last year, spent $1.9 million in just the first quarter of this year.
None of that includes the millions in campaign contributions the banks and trade associations are pouring into the coffers of those members of Congress who sit on the relevant committees responsible for financial reform—especially those willing to take on Dodd-Frank...
Here I must make a loathsome distinction I always try to avoid at all costs, namely, Republicans versus Democrats. While Democrats are satisfied with the tepid financial "reform" they take credit for passing, Republicans don't want them to get credit for anything, and are working overtime for the banks.
Take what’s been happening with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is the law’s most significant and controversial provision. The agency is set to go live next week, except that Republicans in the Senate have made it clear they won’t confirm anyone to serve as its head unless the agency is radically scaled back. All told, Dodd-Frank has some 300 provisions, and the bulk of them are under attack by a number of foes, from bankers to check-cashing companies to free-market Republicans.
Free-market Republicans? Don't they mean Captured-market Republicans? In a truly free market, most of these banks wouldn't exist...
Yet among a majority of Americans the law is exceedingly popular: according to a Gallup poll last fall, 61 percent of respondents said the bill’s passage was a good thing, and 42 percent of those identifying themselves as Republican felt the same...
Instead, Republicans have gotten behind a series of measures that wouldn’t repeal Dodd-Frank as much as whittle it down to the point of ineffectiveness...
One example: Dodd-Frank calls for a sweeping overhaul of the $600 trillion derivatives market—a culprit in the economic meltdown. After the Republicans took the majority in the House, they tried slashing the funding of the agencies charged under the bill with derivatives oversight. When that didn’t work, the focus shifted to delaying the implementation of derivative-related reforms for as long as possible—until at least October 2012. Put off implementation a little longer, and there’s a chance the new Congress, or a new administration, might be less inclined to rein in the financial sector.
Or consider the assault on Elizabeth Warren... [see video below]
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that those who voted Republican in the last election were saying, in effect—
Alternatively, we could take this view, which is perhaps more accurate—
Either way you go here, the result is the same.