From Roll Call (subscription only):
Banks’ Cash Still Welcome
Members of Congress are scoring political points tongue-lashing Wall Street for its role in the economic meltdown, but they are proving less willing to put their campaign money where their mouths are.
The list of 400 companies that have taken advantage of the $700 billion bailout package includes some of the biggest donors in politics: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, among others. Altogether, TARP recipients doled out $5.2 million to members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees in the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Bank lobbyists were working through Ellen Tauscher and the New Democrat Coalition, in conjunction with the Blue Dogs, tried to kill the bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to write down mortgages, cutting foreclosures by 20% at no cost to taxpayers. Thanks to a big public outcry, the New Dems backed down and the bill passed the House. A bankruptcy judge in Kansas speaks today about how important it is going to be that it pass the Senate and that judges be given the powers that they need to help deal with an unmanageable crisis.
But the fact that bank lobbyists continue to have so much control over our laws is, at this point, obscene. It’s equally absurd that the Fed refuses to answer questions posed by members of Congress demanding to know where all the bailout money has gone. We started a campaign this morning demanding that they answer the questions posed by Alan Grayson and other members of Congress about which banks have received bailout funds. Rep. Grayson will be joining us tomorrow night, Tuesday March 10 at 7pm ET/4pm PT to discuss the need for transparency.
You can see what happens to members of Congress like Grayson, whose background includes bringing suits against war profiteers, when they take the job of fiscal oversight seriously. After he asked tough questions about NASA procurement (YouTube above), he was accused by his fellow House members of "micromanaging."
It’s an ugly system, and it’s not going to unwind without a lot of public pressure. You can tell Congress what you think about it here. We’ll be personally delivering your comments to them in the next week, and hope you can join us tomorrow for a chat with Rep. Grayson.