Back in March we wrote about the report “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” published by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation. The report stated that $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade had led to our current economic collapse.
The report was anything but shocking as the influence of big money on public policy is no secret. Many depression era reforms were struck down in the past decade, which allowed among other things the merger of commercial and investment banking and an increase in the amount of leverage financial institutions could utilize.
I was reminded of that report when I saw that the Supreme Court ruled today to overturn a 20-year ruling that prohibited corporations from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads.
Yes in spite of a decade-long deregulation spree fueled by corporate largesse that at the very least contributed to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, those same institutions will have greater freedom to spend money (some of it provided by us taxpayers) to promote their agendas.
The report lists 12 key policy decisions that led directly to the economic implosion and highlights the money invested (and it was an investment) in lobbying efforts and direct political contributions by commercial banks, accounting firms, insurance companies and securities firms.
I understand that the purpose of the Supreme Court is to decide on the constitutionality of certain laws and that requires them to strike down often well-intentioned rules that don’t pass the test. But it seems incomprehensible that large financial institutions may have more influence to set policy geared to their bottom line instead less given what we have gone through and are still going through.
There is on old political saying that goes, “if you can’t take their money, eat their food and drink their whiskey (there may have been something in there about women too) and then come in here the next day and vote against them, you don’t belong here.”
Well judging by what happened over the last decade there are a lot of people who don’t belong in Washington as few voted against the banking lobby in the past decade. And these weak willed folks may face more temptation instead of less.