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After Receiving Millions in Wall Street Cash, House Budget Guts Financial Reform

March 17, 2015 | Adam Smith

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A budget released by House Republicans today states, “[a] truly strong economy is built by innovators that thrive because of the value they provide to consumers, not on what special connections they have in Washington.”

They’re right! But a few pages later, this message is completely contradicted by the actual provisions in the budget, which set out to help exactly those with special connections in Washington.

The same budget “makes great strides in repealing onerous policies enacted under Dodd-Frank,” the financial reform law passed to ensure Wall Street couldn’t continue to engage in risky practices that led to the 2008 economic collapse and recession.

Financial industry interests spent tens of millions lobbying to weaken Dodd-Frank as it made its way through Congress and has spent millions more since to weaken implementation. In 2014, Wall Street was the biggest giving industry to House Republicans as they worked to expand their majority.

Here are some fact on Wall Street’s political spending:

  • The finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector spent nearly $500 million on the 2014 election with a full 63 percent going to Republican candidates and committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This includes $73 million given directly to Republican candidates for the House.
  • Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chair of the House Budget Committee, received $630,000 in FIRE sector contributions through his campaign committee and leadership PAC.
    In fact, Price’s former chief of staff is a lobbyist at the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association, a Wall Street trade group.
  • The sector spent $495 million on 2,348 lobbyists in 2014. More than half of those lobbyists had previously worked in Congress or the executive branch.

After Election Day, top Wall Street lobbyist Tim Pawlenty praised the new Congress as having “higher quality candidates” that his industry was looking forward to working with. A “special connection,” maybe.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.

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