Column: Be on the lookout for those not-so-helpful bankers
BY JIM HIGHTOWER, OtherWords
AUSTIN, Texas — The word “help” is so uplifting. It conveys our best humanitarian values. How odd, then, to see it used in this New York Times headline: “Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills.”
I’ll bet they did!
We all know how altruistic, beneficent, and kindhearted Wall Street lobbyists are — when it comes to helping themselves. The Times’ article explains that a small army of high-dollar influence peddlers are not merely asking our lawmakers to free big banks from pesky rules that limit their reckless greed. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write the laws themselves.
There’s that word again. In this case, “helping to write” is a euphemism for “dictating.” Big-time bankers are turning members of Congress into obedient stenographers.
For example, one key bill that zipped out of the House Finance Committee in May is essentially a do-it-yourself lawmaking product of Citigroup. In a concise 85 lines, it exempts big chunks of dangerously high-risk Wall Street speculation from any bothersome regulation. More than 70 of those 85 lines were penned by Citigroup lobbyists with “help” from other banks. The committee even copied two key paragraphs word for word from the language that Citigroup handed to the members.
This group of DIY bill-writers insists that nothing is amiss here — we’re not trying to gut the Wall Street reform package passed just three years ago, they say. We’re simply trying to reach “a compromise.”
I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night. The 2010 reforms were a compromise, and the American people would like to see them made much tougher, not weaker.
Wall Street, of course, feels entitled to snake inside, assume the role of lawmaker, and pervert the public will. As one lobbyist puts it, “We will provide input if we see a bill we have interest in.” After all, it’s all about helping.