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01

Oct

2009

The "flat learning curve" to describe all things Washington D.C.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 10:22
by Stephen P. Pizzo

Over the years I covered so many government-made messes, each one a near-carbon copy of an earlier mess, that I started using the term "flat learning curve" to describe all things Washington D.C.

Now, one might take that to mean that politicians never learn from the past. But no, it's quite the opposite. They've learned all too well. But the lesson they learned is not the one we'd hope for. What they've learned is this:

- If they refuse to pass laws that tighten regulations and prevent abuses like the kind that created the dot.com bubble, the housing bubble and looted America's 401ks, they are rewarded by tons of campaign cash.
- Then, when their legislative malfeasance results in entirely predictable fiscal calamity, they are again rewarded with tons of cash by simply not doing anything real that might prevent such abuses in the future.

That's how it works, boys and girls. We are a cash-n-carry democracy -- those with cash, always carry the day. Then they so their respect the same way the Soprano Family did, by "kicking up" some of their booty to your elected "representatives."

Too cynical? Ya think? Here's the latest from the flat learning curve front:

Wall Street money rains on Schumer

by Victoria McGrane and Lisa Lerer, Politico.com

September 28, 2009 04:34 AM EST

Wall Street has showered nearly $11 million on the Senate since the beginning of the year, and more than 15 percent of it has gone to a single senator: Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York.


Schumer's $1.65 million take from the financial services industry is nearly twice that of any other senator's - and more than five times what the industry gave to any single Republican senator.

While the industry has scaled back its political spending in the wake of last year's economic collapse, data from the Center for Responsive Politics show that it's still investing heavily in the Senate, where it's likely to have its best shot at stopping - or at least shaping - the crackdown on Wall Street that President Barack Obama has proposed.

And it's clearly looking to Democrats to do it.

Of the $10.6 million the industry has given to sitting senators this year, more than $7.7 million has gone to Democrats. Schumer got his $1.65 million; his New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand took in $886,000; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada received $814,000; Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd of Connecticut scored $603,000; Colorado freshman Michael Bennet got $401,000; and Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas- who will have a big say on the derivatives portion of regulatory reform - got $336,000.

"Democrats are holding the reins in Washington now with a Democratic-run White House and Congress," said one financial services lobbyist. "It only makes sense that donors want to put their money into the coffers of those who are driving the agenda."

Among Republicans, the biggest recipient of financial-industry money so far this year is Richard Shelby of Alabama. But although he's the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee - ground zero for the regulatory reform bill in the Senate - he's received just $313,000 from the industry this year.

That's smaller than the haul for Bennet, the most junior Democrat on the Committee, or Lincoln, who isn't even on it. And Shelby is the only Republican senator on the industry's top-10 giving list.

The industry's giving pattern this year may upend the traditional notion of Republicans as the bagmen for Wall Street. But it also reflects political reality: Democrats hold a commanding if not quite filibuster-proof majority in the upper chamber, and some of them may be willing to side with the financial industry on key aspects of the regulatory reform effort - even if that's not immediately obvious from the Democrats' populist rhetoric.

Rest of article here.

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