10-21-2010, 08:33 AM
How Wall Street Can Still Win
As Battle for Financial Reform Moves to Bureaucracy, Industry Lobbyists Outnumber Consumer Advocates 50-to-1
As the battle over Wall Street reform shifts venues – from Capitol Hill to federal agencies – industry lobbyists who oppose some new regulations outnumber consumer advocates 50 to 1, an analysis of lobbying disclosure data shows.
Although Congress passed and President Obama signed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act last month, Congress did not iron out many of the law’s details. Lawmakers instead left that task up to regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, FDIC and Federal Reserve.
Over the next two years, the regulators must conduct more than 60 studies and write some 250 rules. This process is well suited to seasoned industry lawyers and lobbyists who are skilled at analyzing the nitty gritty of proposed regulations.
Even before the battle moved to the regulatory agencies, “the corporate onslaught was breathtaking,” said Heather Booth, a top lobbyist for a coalition of consumer groups pushing for new restrictions on Wall Street.
Since 2009, more than 3,000 lobbyists for banks, Wall Street trade groups and financial firms have lobbied Congress and the regulators about financial reform, according to Senate lobbying data assembled by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan journalism organization.
Consumer advocates are largely limited to Booth’s coalition, Americans for Financial Reform, which tapped about 60 lobbyists from consumer groups such as the Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation of America and major labor unions.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone has 85 lobbyists fighting various aspects of financial reform.
Trade groups and law firms specializing in financial services are still hiring, lobbyists told the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. This year, megabank Goldman Sachs added a member to its team of persuaders, bringing the total to 45, some of whom once worked on Capitol Hill or at the SEC.
This article is a few months old, but it is very informative.
“Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”