How Much Money Does Wall Street Spend on Lobbying and Campaign Contributions?

occupy-wall-street-political-cartoon-lobbyists

Political cartoon by Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

A new report from Americans for Financial Reform provides a troubling window into the amount of cash pouring into Congress from Wall Street since the 2008 crisis -it’s over $2.7 million a day, and more than $3.7 million per member of Congress!

Wall Street Money in Washington,” is a 62-page examination of political spending, draws on a special data set compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics for AFR in order to provide a more precise look at financial industry spending than is otherwise possible.

Campaign Contributions: $1.2 billion. Individuals and entities associated with financial reported making $1,201,417,199 in contributions to federal candidates for office during this election cycle. The financial sector’s contributions were almost twice that of any other specific business sector identified in the data. Of the $688,150,613 in party-coded contributions by PACs and individuals associated with finance, 55% went to Republicans and 45% went to Democrats.

Five U.S. Senators and two House members were among the biggest Congressional recipients of financial sector contributions. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) topped this list with $8,687,969. The other senators were Ted Cruz (R-TX), with $5,482,011; Charles Schumer (D-NY), with $5,345,563; Rob Portman (R-OH), with $4,158,259; Pat Toomey (R-PA). Members of the House of Representatives were led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), with $5,727,069; and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with $3,397,980.

Lobbying: $898 million. The financial industry reported spending a total of $897,949,264 on lobbying in 2015 and 2016. This puts the sector in – close – third place, behind the Health sector, which spent $1,022,907,176, and a category of “Miscellaneous Business,” a sector that that itself probably includes some Wall Street lobbying by business groups with a broader focus than only finance.

Since 2008, the financial services industry has spent more money on contributions and lobbying than it did before the crisis, and the total in this cycle is the highest yet. 

“The entire apparatus of government operates in an environment flooded with millions of dollars in Wall Street cash on a daily basis,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “If you want to understand why finance too often hurts consumers, investors and businesses far from Wall Street, take a look at these numbers.”

You can read the whole report on the Americans for Financial Reform website. 

 

Is Congress Really Set to Pass Legislation Written By A Citigroup Lobbyist?

Citibank Legislation

Does Wall Street have no shame?

Americans for Financial Reform, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Other 98%, and other bank watchdogs are blasting Congress for potentially destroying a key protection that was included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.  Dodd Frank financial reform was passed in response to the Wall-Street induced financial meltdown, and aimed to curb the riskiest behavior that ultimately resulted in hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, retirement savings lost, and millions of people losing their homes to foreclosure.

If this “gift” is allowed to go through, banks will be allowed to use insured deposits and other taxpayer subsidies and guarantees to gamble in the derivatives market.  This practice helped create the 2008 financial crisis.

Under Dodd-Frank, bank holding companies are required to segregate, and independently fund their riskiest and most exotic derivatives trading.  This requirement means taxpayers won’t be on the hook if the banks engage in risky behavior again.

Until now.

Apparently a measure, written by Citigroup lobbyists, has worked its way into the stop-gap government funding measure.

What can you do about it?

Call your senators and let them know.  We don’t want the banks to be allowed to gamble with American citizens picking up the tab at the end.  The “Citigroup measure” included in the omnibus spending bill must be removed!

PS: As a reminder, Wall Street is counting on you to have a short memory.  Consider CIT Group, which received $2.3 billion under the TARP program.  At the time, taxpayers were told this “investment” was important because of CIT’s role as a small business lender.  A year later, CIT had made only 142 small business loans (that’s 1,053 fewer than the year before), and CIT also declared bankruptcy, wiping out its obligation to repay taxpayers.  Fast forward to 2014, and CIT Group is now trying to buy OneWest bank and create another Too Big To Fail Bank.  In addition to the $2.3 billion “gift” to CIT Group, there’s ongoing corporate subsidy tucked into this deal as well- take a look at the lucrative shared-loss deal that OneWest’s billionaire owners were able to secure from the FDIC: Is the FDIC Subsidizing a ‘Too Big to Fail’ Merger?