Why No One’s Going to Drain this Swamp

The Financial Sector threw $2 Billion at Congress during the Election. Biggest Spenders? Not the Banks.

By Wolf Richter

The Financial Sector – whose products, risk-taking, and shenanigans blew up the sector and everything around it during the Financial Crisis – has finally gotten the memo in a serious way: During the past election cycle (2015-2016), it doused the members of the US Congress with a record amount of money to “influence decision making” and get what they want: deregulation, handouts, and subsidies.

So how much? Over $2 billion.

That’s over $3.7 million per sitting member of Congress, according to a report released today by Americans for Financial Reform. The $2 billion tab fell into two categories:

  • Campaign contributions by companies, trade associations, and individuals associated with the financial sector: $1.104 billion. This was “almost twice that of any other specific business sector.”
  • Lobbying expenses by 460 financial sector entities: $898 million

“The financial sector is by far the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties, and the third largest spender on lobbying,” the report explains, based on data by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), which tracks campaign contributions reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and lobbying expenditures reported to the Senate Office of Public Records.

This “Financial Sector” includes commercial banks, S&Ls, credit unions, finance and credit companies, securities and investment firms, accountants, and “miscellaneous finance.”

But actual amounts are much higher:

  • Entities often report this data “many months late”; contributions and lobbying expenses reported after February 8 are not included in the report.
  • “Financial Sector,” as defined by the CRP, excludes some trade associations and companies with a “very substantial financial interests,” such as the US Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies extensively on financial issues, and the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) which lobbies on policy regarding auto loans.
  • Also excluded is “dark money” contributed to nonprofits “that engage in political advocacy in their own right but do not have to report their donors. The total amount of unreported dark-money spending is widely believed to be at least as great as reported spending.”

So the $2 billion is a minimum. The actual total could be $4 billion, or whatever. That is starting to be real money

Continue reading the article at WOLF STREET

One thought on “Why No One’s Going to Drain this Swamp

  1. Some have proposed paying congresspeople more so they won’t be so interested in huge donations.

    Problem is, they need to get elected before their salary is germane and the huge contributions are needed to get elected.


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