The sad thing is, this sort of shady behavior might well have been on the way to being curtailed if not for the actions of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). After Brown was elected to the senate in 2010, he threatened to join a Republican filibuster of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, using that threat to significantly water down the bill. Among the industry-favored concessions he extracted was weakening of the “Volcker rule,” which was meant to curb risky speculative investments that do not benefit customers.
Thanks to Brown’s maneuver, the final bill upped the amount of risky trading big banks like Goldman could engage in, increasing the amount of gambling they’re able to do by billions of dollars. Since then, financial industry lobbyists have been hammering away at the the rule in an attempt to render it completely meaningless.
The financial sector, of course, has repaid Brown with a flurry of campaign contributions. Between contributions from the firm’s leadership PAC and contributions from company employees, Brown has already received more than $40,000 in campaign cash from Goldman Sachs this cycle.