The nation’s banks have been taking it on the chin for too long. Until this very moment they’ve been powerless to strike back. Now, finally, the Supreme Court has bestowed the tools on them, through Citizens United, to finally have a voice in public affairs. They can now begin their trip on the road to renewal with their very own SuperPAC.
Frustrated by a lack of political power and fed up with blindly donating to politicians who consistently vote against the industry’s interests, a handful of leaders are determined to shake things up.
They have formed the industry’s first SuperPAC — dubbed Friends of Traditional Banking — that is designed to target the industry’s enemies and support its friends in Congress.
“It comes back to the old philosophy of walking softly and carrying a big stick,” says Howard Headlee, the president and chief executive officer of the Utah Bankers Association. “But we’ve got no big stick. And we should. We have the capacity to have one, we just aren’t organized.”
Think of it as an Emily’s List for bankers and their allies.
“Congress isn’t afraid of bankers,” adds Roger Beverage, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. “They don’t think we’ll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception.”
It may be April, but absolutely none of that above quote is satirical. This is a good description of how bankers think about their plight. They believe their purported allies in Congress constantly vote against their interests, and that they never get their way on legislation. They’ve been blamed for the financial crisis unjustly, in this telling, and the country simply fails to appreciate their mass benefits to society.
Really, that’s the worldview.
And what does Friends of Traditional Banking want to do? They say it quite explicitly here. They are not interested in small dollar amounts. They will seek out races where they can rid themselves of a critic, and then set their guns blazing, donating anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million to secure the victory over their foe.
Mind you, this is a PAC for mostly regional banks. But the banking industry, through the American Bankers Association, has already blessed the effort and plans to start their own SuperPAC to complement it. And it’s only a matter of time before this winds its way up to the giant banks, unless they feel they already own Congress at a discount.
The worldview here is the most interesting thing, the mentality that bankers are put-upon and luckless in the legislative arena.