Quote of the Day
I apologize for the light blogging this week. It’s been one of those weeks.
That on top of the fact that I feel like I’ve played the debate around health care reform out pretty well and so am attempting to pivot to the equally, if not more, vital topic of financial regulation reform. I’m pretty uninitiated on the topic, so I’m mounting a bit of a learning curve, but I’m hoping to make the current reform bill a center piece for the next little bit here.
In lieu of something more substantial, please accept this quote from James Kwak from The Baseline Scenario,
Of course, the [American Bankers Association] is a lobbying organization, and some (like a majority of the Supreme Court in Citizens United) might say that this is how politics is supposed to work: corporations that have certain interests should be able to give money to lobbying organizations that will do whatever it takes to advance those interests, and being constrained by things like logical consistency or even a sense of shame would be a dereliction of duty for those organizations. So maybe the ABA is just doing its job. But that doesn’t mean that the members of the United States Senate have to fall for it.
This is about as pointed and, in my opinion, astute a critique of the role of lobbying in political discourse as any I’ve come across. It was watching the way the health care debate unfolded that really soured me on the political process in a way that provided inspiration for this site.
As much as the reform passed might be a monumental step in the right direction, it was striking to me just how truncated the terms of the debate really were based on the over-participation of particular interests via their available resources. Debate determined by the sizes of bank accounts is nothing new, of course. But there does seem to be a wholesale and popular cognitive dissonance about the reality of how pervasive and determinate it is. Packaged with popular rhetoric about the need to slay the lobbying dragon, one is left with a sort of undeniable sense about the hypocrisy of it all.
There were real and justified reasons for being opposed to the public option. But those weren’t generally the reasons offered by the insurance lobby in any meaningful sense. In terms of the input of lobbyists, it would be one thing if they were primarily focused on presenting a particular perspective so as to have as full and productive a debate possible. But that would require a degree of good faith that, as James notes, really just isn’t there.
That goes double for the debate around financial regulation reform. The idea that one ought to be prepared to accept the arguments being offered by the American Bankers Association — a lobbying group representing a group of individuals who played a key role in ruining hundreds of thousands of lives and have to date shown no appreciable remorse for their actions — at face value is laughable, to put it mildly.
There is some measure of poetic irony in the fact that free market cheerleading investment bankers and their lobbyists are, in fact, the biggest threat to the continued stability and prosperity of free markets. But, politically speaking, we passed through the looking glass some time back in 1995 or thereabouts.
Happy April Fool’s Day.