Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Should All Members Of Congress Who Accept Bankster PAC Money Be Arrested And Charged With Accepting Bribes?


Bankster shills Bayh and Ryan-- corruption is bicameral and bipartisan... and no laughing matter

I've been speaking to members of Congress and their staffers all week-- almost 100 of them, including not just the progressives I normally talk to, but even Blue Dogs and their Republican allies. The object is to stop the $108 billion European bank bailout-- and the subsequent loss of dozens of Democrat seats in the House and Senate in 2010. But Rahm Emanuel, who has always been a creature of the banking establishment (and who worked as a bankster for a brief time between his Clinton job and his congressional job-- during which he "became" a multimillionaire-- is ruthlessly demanding that Democrats honor Obama's commitment to bailout European banks with American tax dollars, the biggest political misstep the administration has made since... hiring Emanuel on as chief of staff.

Many of the congressmembers and staffers I've talked to repeat the mantra Emanuel has pounded into their skulls: "we can't vote against the troops." They sound as stupid and worthless and the Republican rubber stamps we worked so hard to drive from power. None of them-- not even the worst of them-- ever say "But, Howie, the banking sector has donated $50,000 to me over the years; how can I screw them now? And if I vote against them, they finance an opponent in 2010."

Nevertheless, the truth is very ugly. This morning Silla Brush reports in The Hill that the banksters have amassed a huge political war chest to reward their friends and punish their enemies. "On the eve of a major overhaul of the financial system intended to prevent another crisis from erupting, the financial industry has built a more than $6 million war chest to sway lawmakers." Considering that the banksters have been getting several hundred billion dollars in taxpayer funds, we are subsidizing the legalized bribes that the banksters are dangling over the heads of our representatives to vote against our best interests.
A survey by The Hill illustrates that the economic recession and hundreds of billions of dollars in government bailout money for the financial industry appear to have done little or nothing to dent the fundraising prowess of many of the largest banking and financial industry interests.

Through April of this year, the political action committees (PACs) for six of the largest industry trade associations raised $1.6 million and spent $1.7 million, according to a review of campaign finance records. PACs for some of the largest banks have held off making major contributions to federal candidates while they received federal bailout money, but six of them have amassed nearly $3.7 million in cash on hand. The trade associations have roughly another $2.7 million available.

The fundraising takes place as President Obama gets set to unveil wide-ranging proposals on June 17 to remake the financial system, while Congress is ramping up hearings and beginning to draft legislation. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he intends by July to pass through his committee major legislation on “systemic risk,” executive pay, investor protection and resolution authority for non-bank financial institutions.

As a result, financial groups say, it’s more important than ever that their members have a voice in Washington.

...Critics argue that the money will give the industry a heavy hand in shaping legislation to its benefit and threatens to stymie changes that would benefit consumers.

“The industry continues to wield a lot of power because of the money,” said Kathleen Day, spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending. “That’s just the fact.”

Outside critics and some Democratic members, most notably Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said banking interests have already shown their clout. Financial interests won a major battle earlier this year when the Senate failed to pass a bill that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of primary home mortgages. Industry groups stridently opposed that measure, which they call “cramdown.”

Some of the banks that had the decency to stop bribing politicians while they were receiving bailout money-- or were too scared to do s0-- are among the banks being allowed to repay their TARP loans. And they're back in the PAC business. Bank of America, for example, is collecting PAC money from its bonus-happy executives at a prodigious rate. “We’re doing our research,” threatened a Bank of America spokeswoman. “In previous years we knew the people and their track record.”

Yes, they did. Let's forget for a moment that the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector (FIRE) spent more money on lobbying than any other sector ($3,560,808,113 since 1998) and instead just focus on the $2,237,819,188 they've directly contributed to members of Congress and to candidates for Congress. Which members of Congress have they lavished the really big money on? McCain got the most, by far-- over $33 million-- but let's leave out members of Congress who ran presidential campaigns and just focus on current members of Congress-- senators who have gotten over $4 million and House members who have gotten over $2.5 million.

Looking at the list of the biggest Senate recipients is like looking at a list of the biggest perps in that august body:

Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street)- $12,909,246
Joe Lieberman (I-Corruption)- $10,004,424
Arlen Specter (R-D- PA)- $5,839,910
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $5,093,903
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)- $4,861,425
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)- $4,695,388
Max Baucus (D-MT)- $4,676,093
Richard Shelby (R-AL)- $4,428,842
John Cornyn (R-TX)- $4,375,117
Evan Bayh (D-IN)- $4,053,616

And in the House, the banksters have been targeting their giving at powerful chairmen and knee jerk shills:

Charlie Rangel (D-NY)- $4,310,726
Spencer Baucus (R-AL)- $3,815,224
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)- $3,265,044
Eric Cantor (R-VA)- $3,192,188
John Boehner (R-OH)- $3,107,459
Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)- $2,862,544
Barney Frank (D-MA)- $2,790,811
Pete Sesssions (R-TX)- $2,761,030
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- $2,698,705
Nita Lowey (D-NY)- $2,668,210
Roy Blunt (R-MO)- $2,667,605
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $2,622,083
Ed Royce (R-CA)- $2,582,964

And it isn't only the bankster PACs that are corrupting Congress. That fount of corruption and reactionary politics, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign "to defend the free market system" from the American people. Today's Politico is reporting that the Chamber is on the warpath (again)-- $100 million worth. Most of the money will go to the most corrupt members of Congress, money-worshipping and greed-obsessed Republicans and their Blue Dog and DLC allies. Right-wing, anti-working family Democrats like Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have nothing to fear from the Chamber. The Chamber's targets are always the same: Democrats who defend the interests of ordinary American working families.

This morning I was explaining how Emanuel was forcing reluctant Democrats to vote for that $108 billion bailout for European banks and she came up with a very clear way of looking at it. "If," Cynthia pointed out, "we're borrowing $108 billion for China and then loaning it to the IMF to dole out to the European banks, why can't the Europeans just borrow the money directly from China. What do they want from us?" Good question-- and one that many Americans will get progressively more concerned about once the Republicans pounce on naive Democrats foolish enough to vote for this turd. I was very heartened this morning to see the results of the latest Diageo/Hotline poll showing that there is very high public support for a major overhaul of the health care system. 62% of respondents support Obama's approach. 87% of Democrats, 64% of Independents and even 35% of Republicans support a major overhaul of health care. Looking like voters aren't ready to be fooled by Republicans again.

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