Data shows rise in financial lobbying

A man and woman shake hands

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: There could be a deal in the Senate on Wall Street regulations, and it involves a proposed new entity inside the Federal Reserve to oversee consumer financial products. Now some supporters of financial regulatory reform, including President Obama, wanted a separate agency to do that, but the idea never really got off the ground. Maybe, maybe it was a lobbying blitz by the financial industry that had something to do with it. Here's reporter Brett Neely with more.


Brett Neely: If you want to sink an idea in Washington these days, an attack ad can help. This one, funded by the Chamber of Commerce, says small business owners are already sleepless due to the economy:

SCARY AD: Now Washington wants to make it worse with the CFPA, a massive new federal agency that will create more layers of regulation and bureaucracy.

Ads like this are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to influencing lawmakers. The financial industry spent nearly $500 million sending lobbyists to Capitol Hill last year.

Dave Levinthal is with the Center for Responsive Politics:

Dave Levinthal: Despite the economy being as rotten as it was in 2009, they spent more money on lobbying in 2009 than they even did in 2008, which to a lot of people is pretty remarkable.

And he says they're on track to spend even more this year.

Then there's campaign contributions. The financial industry has already given over $100 million to congressional election campaigns this November. The center's data shows that in 2009, the industry gave Democrats $58 million and Republicans $44 million.

Democrat Chris Dodd and Republican Richard Shelby run the Senate Banking Committee. They've pulled in a combined $20 million from the industry over the course of their careers.

Are the banks getting what they want from the bill? Scott Talbott lobbies for the Financial Services Roundtable:

Scott Talbott: We're pleased with the trend in the way the discussions are going.

And it's not just banks that are lobbying against a regulator to protect consumers. Some of the other groups that have lobbied against the idea include McDonalds, Wal-Mart and the Society of American Florists.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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