The Wall Street Journal reports that lobbyists for Wall Street firms have dispensed with traditionally subtle lobbying tactics and launched an aggressive campaign to ensure that the terms of the Treasury’s proposed bailout are as favorable to the finance industry as possible.
A major player in this effort is the Financial Services Roundtable, a “lobbying group representing the nation’s banks” with significant ties to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign. According to a MotherJones report, current and former lobbyists for the Roundtable that have worked or fundraised for McCain’s campaign include:
– Carlos Bonilla: former McCain campaign economic adviser. [TPM, 6/9/08]
– David Crane: McCain campaign fundraiser and former aide to McCain at the Senate Commerce Committee. [USA Today, 3/24/2008]
– Samuel Geduldig: McCain campaign fundraiser. [Public Citizen, 1/29/08]
– Former Sen. Phil Gramm: While not a lobbyist for the Roundtable, Gramm did address the group as a McCain campaign surrogate at the RNC. [Bloomberg, 9/2/08]
The Roundtable’s agenda in the current economic crisis appears to be two-fold.
First, to expand the size and scope of bailout. Over the weekend the Roundtable successfully lobbied the Treasury to make the proposed bailout “broad enough to include different types of assets” — including those held by foreign banks. “Depending on how many foreign banks participate,” the provision could increase the cost of the bailout to $1.4 trillion, according to Institutional Risk Analytics.
And second, to block struggling homeowners from benefiting from the bailout. The Roundtable is working hard to ensure that the bailout is limited to firms on Wall Street, calling “a proposal to grant bankruptcy judges new powers” to restructure the mortgages of struggling homeowners a “deal killer.” The Center for American Progress notes, however, that such a provision would serve to limit the total cost of the bailout.
The New York Times reports today that McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid “$30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations.” ThinkProgress documented Davis’s lobbying ties to the financial crisis here and here.