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Wall Street Spends More in 2014 Than It Did to Defeat Dodd-Frank

Joseph Hines

As turmoil surrounds a potential shutdown around provisions to roll back critical parts of Dodd-Frank, there's new evidence that Wall Street holds more influence than ever in Washington.

In an update to their political spending report released today, the indefatigable Americans for Financial Reform finds that the financial industry, during the 2014 election cycle and lobbying throughout the year, is on track to spend more than it did in 2010, when it was vigorously fighting to undermine or stop Dodd-Frank.

Here are some of their key findings about the 2014 cycle on elections and lobbying:

  • The financial sector writes big checks: an average of $2.3 million per member of Congress.
  • That amounts to the financial sector spending an average of $1.8 million a day.
  • A lot of that comes in the form of campaign contributions, with individuals and organizations connected to the financial industry spending over $400 million in contributions to federal candidates during the 2014 election cycle.
  • And even more comes through day-to-day lobbying in Washington. The financial industry spent nearly $800 million lobbying from 2013 and 2014, making it the second biggest spender behind "Miscellaneous Business."

Money matters. Big money talks in our political campaigns and in Washington, and Wall Street's ability to write its own rules precipitated the last financial crisis that continues to damage the wealth and incomes of everyone else. That continues today: Citigroup literally wrote 70 of 85 lines of the provision being debated by the House of Representatives that would roll back Dodd-Frank's derivatives reforms. 

As Senator Elizabeth Warren succinctly and powerfully summed up on the Senate floor yesterday:

The House is about to vote on a budget deal, a deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.

Six years after the financial crisis, it seems like much of Washington has a short memory. But in the midst of finance's spending blitz, there are glimmers of hope. While the White House supports passage of the omnibus spending bill, the House of Representatives surprisingly only narrowly voted to debate an omnibus spending bill containing deregulatory language.

If you're worried about the influence of finance over our elected officials, tell them. Call your representative today at 202-224-3121 and demand they reject a deal that weakens crucial protections to prevent another financial crisis.