Basically, America Spent All That TARP Money On Lobbyists
So if taxpayers, having bailed out the financial sector with billions of TARP dollars, didn't get jobs or oversight or consumer protection or a return to lending or a promise of wholesale changes to business practices or -- at the very least -- a pound of flesh from the inveterate greedheads who nearly destroyed the economy in return for their charitable donation (which we remind you, we didn't get fund accounting for, either), then what did they get? How about a crap-ton of lobbyists, lobbying against taxpayer interests, with taxpayer money? Here's Nathaniel Popper, reporting for the L.A. Times:
Even as the financial industry has sought to keep a low public profile, some of the country's largest banks have ramped up their spending on lobbying to fight off some of the stiffest regulatory proposals pending in Congress.
Lobbying expenditures jumped 12% from 2008 to $29.8 million last year among the eight banks and private equity firms that spent the most to influence legislation, according to data compiled from disclosure forms filed with Congress.
The biggest spender was JPMorgan Chase & Co., whose lobbying budget rose 12% to $6.2 million, enough for the firm to have more than 30 lobbyists working for it. Among other banks, spending on lobbying rose 27% at Wells Fargo & Co. and 16% at Morgan Stanley.
Over at the Washington Independent, Megan Carpentier -- herself a former lobbyist who knows the lay of the land all too well -- wryly notes:
Those companies would undoubtedly insist -- in compliance with the Byrd Amendment, which prohibits companies from spending money received from the federal government on lobbying -- that there was a strict demarcation between corporate money and federal TARP funds. But when those TARP funds were used to keep the corporation afloat, it's a paper-thin wall at best.
Right. You see, if we hadn't bailed these companies out, they would not exist, which means they'd all be "lobbying" for bus fare and attempting to sell their used office furniture.
The L.A. Times quotes one Ed Mierzwinski, "a lobbyist for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group," as saying, "It seems like everybody is out of work except for bank lobbyists."
That's not entirely true. Many of those lobbying firms also paid homeless people to stand in lines for them. This is what is known as "trickle down economics," and if you didn't get in on the ground floor of this whole "being homeless and standing in line" sector, who's fault is that?
Banks step up spending on lobbying to fight proposed stiffer regulations [Los Angeles Times]
TARP Money Funded Massive Lobbying Expenditures in 2009 [Washington Independent]