A full 90 members of Congress who voted to bailout Wall Street in 2008 failed to support financial reform reining in the banks that drove our economy off a cliff. But when you examine campaign contribution data, it’s really no surprise that these particular lawmakers voted to mortgage our economic future to Big Finance: This election cycle, they’ve raked in over $48.8 million from the financial establishment. Over the course of their Congressional careers, the figure swells to a massive $176.9 million.
The complete list of these Crony Capitalists is below, along with the money they pulled in from Big Finance, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org). The career data goes back to 1989. Of the 69 House members who voted with Wall Street on both the bailout and financial reform, 60 are Republicans, while nine are Democrats. All 21 Senators who voted with Wall Street on both issues are Republicans, and Republicans raked in over
90 percent of the total campaign contributions.
Here’s a chart showing Wall Street’s total contributions to this crowd for the 2010 cycle, by political party:
And here’s one showing total Wall Street contributions over the course of their careers:
These aren’t the only politicians carrying water for Wall Street–only the most flagrant. Some of the bank lobby’s savviest servants on Capitol Hill do their dirty work early in the legislative process. They push through technical amendments and deploy complex procedural tricks to defang a bill, but when the final vote comes, they can still create the appearance of taking a stand against Wall Street’s interests. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., is a master of this technique, and Tea Party favorite Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., was able to claim credit for voting in favor of reform after demanding–and receiving–a host of big bank giveaways in return for his vote.
Nor are Republicans the only recipients of Wall Street largesse. Bean, for instance, has pulled in over $773,000 from Wall Street in the 2010 cycle alone, while working overtime to carve loopholes into new consumer protections (she’s scored $2.4 million over the course of her Congressional career). And the Democratic leadership has received millions as well.
When it comes to dealing out economic damage, no special interest group has been able to wreak more havoc that Big Finance. After inflating an $8 trillion housing bubble and sparking a recession that has cost the economy over 8 million jobs, public pressure to crack down on Wall Street was intense. And the public is still clamoring for Wall Street accountability–after two years in office, the Wall Street reform bill remains the most popular legislative effort championed by President Barack Obama, and getting tough on Big Finance has been a reliable re-election strategy for embattled incumbents.
But harnessing the Wall Street beast proved a tortuously long and difficult process, taking nearly two years despite its economic urgency. And while the bill that Congress approved this year has plenty of virtues, many of the most critical reforms were simply not addressed by the legislation. The too-big-to-fail financial behemoths that taxpayers bailed out in 2008 are even bigger today, banks can still gamble with taxpayer money, and the foreclosure crisis continues to ravage neighborhoods across the country. Until these issues are addressed, the U.S. economy will remain beholden to Wall Street’s bonus-crazed whims.
But if you follow the money, it’s obvious why so much work remains to be done on financial reform. This year alone, Wall Street spent a staggering $251 million fighting financial reform. According to a separate analysis of campaign contributions performed by Public Citizen, lawmakers who voted with Wall Street on both the bailout and reform received nearly triple the campaign cash of those who opposed Wall Street (figures in the Public Citizen study don’t correspond to those I’ve compiled, as Public Citizen examined contributions from 2007 through July of 2010).
Despite the popularity of Wall Street reform, 90 members of Congress didn’t even want to publicly pretend to support reining in almost universally reviled banks. When you’re trying to decide which bums to throw out in November, here’s one place to start. These members of Congress are okay with setting up economic calamities, and they don’t mind paying for them with your tax dollars.
Here’s how Wall Street’s contributions break down among Wall Street’s 21 Senate Cronies. For 2010:
For their careers:
This piece is re-posted from the Campaign for America’s Future blog, OurFuture.
Zach Carter’s work has appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, The American Prospect and Salon.
Follow Zach Carter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zachdcarter
Posted September 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm, in From Campaign for America's Future