Throwing the bank at Congress

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Two money-in-politics reports were released today that shine a spotlight on the campaign contrbutions that banks and other financial services companies have thrown at members of Congress to influence the financial reform debate.

From Public Citizen

Lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and trade associations
tied to the banks receiving the most federal bailout money have
scheduled 70 fundraisers for members of Congress since Election Day and
have made $6 million in federal campaign contributions.

The financial meltdown was due in part to the fact that regulators didn’t care if consumers were being screwed as long as the banks were making money. So reform that includes a strong consumer-focused regulator is crucial to rein in the unsafe loans, unfair fees and outright deception that became the norm for many in the financial industry. Legislation with the backing of the president would create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, with the power to oversee consumer protection rules for all financial products. But that bill is still waiting for a markup in the House Financial Services committee as the banks argue that they should preserve the status quo. Money talks.

The second report out today is really a new online tool that matches campaign contributions with votes from It shows: 

If you use the Money Near Votes tool to follow the money for the House vote on H.R. 627, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009, you’ll see that the banking industry contributed $271,029 in campaign contributions to
House legislators within two weeks of the House’s vote on this bill.

Small wonder that the bill failed to include a cap on the interest rates that credit card companies (including many who raked in low-interest bailout dough) can charge consumers.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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