Like bees to honey, the government bailout has triggered an explosion in corporate lobbying on behalf of banks, savings and loan institutions and insurers. Only these bees are very rich and very greedy. According to CQ Politics Nov. 1, K Street reported nearly $830 million in expenditures and revenue for July, August and September of this year – with no end in sight after registering 500 new clients just this October.
Corporate lobbyists are about as reputable as used-car salesman. And for good reason. Imagine, as a politician, your source of information on an industry, company, town or organization is a person paid directly by that entity to encourage legislation if favor of said entity. It is the height of conflict of interest. Would you trust a prostitute if he/she told you they were the best lay on the strip? No! But if you’re a john, you’ll probably do them anyway.
And this is the problem we have with big biz lobbyists. Their information and opinion are skewed, biased and unreliable. The lobbyists who represent the wealthier entities are inevitably more successful, securing de-regulatory measures, earmarks, etc. for their clients. And money continues to power the Washington merry-go-round, as we’re seeing with Paulson’s bailout.
During the lame duck Congressional session in 2000, our public-serving representatives legalized unregulated over-the-counter derivative markets (ahem, gambling). Now, would our legislators come up with this idea on their own, under the assumption that this loosening of the stock market rule book would benefit society as a whole? NO! Slimy little wankers in the form of lobbyists undoubtedly sent oodles of cash to specific designations to earn those Yeas. The lobbyists likely wrote the legislation itself.
The U.S. bailout package, unlike the U.K. bailout, includes unprecedented loans to the banking industry without stipulating the banks in turn must issue loans to help lubricate financial markets. The bailout loans come with no restrictions that the government money cannot be used to pay stockholder dividends, nor for the payment of executive bonuses. It would seem elementary to obligate banks to use the bailout appropriately and in the best interest of the economy. And yet our Treasury Department and Congress have been the Daddy Warbucks to Little Orphan Annie – as you wish, my dear. How does such an asinine lack of oversight, transparency and intelligent governance fall by the wayside during this worldwide torrential economic plunge?
Lobbyists. Under the orders of the corporate pimps. Conducting trades of cash and influence in the backs of the American public. The examples of manipulations, misdeeds, proliferation of misinformation and the results of such actions are endless:
- Reuters: “The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.”
- AP: “Some of the nation’s biggest banks are in for a windfall — on top of the $700 billion government bailout — thanks to a new tax policy quietly issued by the Treasury Department. The notice gives big tax breaks to companies that acquire struggling banks hit hard by the mortgage crisis. In some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks, according to analyses by private tax experts. The change could cost the Treasury as much as $140 billion by enabling firms that acquire struggling banks to use more losses incurred by those banks to offset their own taxable profits.”
- Bloomberg: The Federal Reserve refuses to identitify the recipients of $2 trillion in taxpayer loans, despite promising transparency in return for approval of the bailout plan.
- ABC: Pelosi (and Obama) is calling for more of the $700 bailout to be given to the Big 3 American automakers, who received $25 billion in September, with environmentally friendly strings attached.
Corporations are convincing our federal representation, through Olympic lobbying efforts, to collude in efforts that secretly and overtly reward poor financial judgment, strengthening corporate power and influence and proving that our government is no longer beholden to the voters, but to big business.
Obama is taking baby steps to quell the loud voices of corporate lobbyists. Transition team leader John Podesta introduced new lobbying restrictions for the transition process. CNN – “Those who leave the transition team will be barred for a year from lobbying the incoming administration on matters related to their transition jobs, and current lobbyists who join the team are barred for 12 months from working in policy fields related to their lobbying work.”
Hopefully, an Obama presidency and Democrat-led Congress will find time in their busy schedules to legally amputate the greedy fingers of corporations – their lobbyists. I’m not holding my breath.
And while lobbying is protected by the first amendment, the flood of cash through these unethical vessels into D.C. must end. These people make and distribute far too much money, assualting our democracy with each greedy cent. They divert power from the people to self-interested corporations, delivering an economic crisis that could easily define the next age.