Sunday, December 14, 2008

The honorable and buyable Sen. Charles Schumer

Senator Charles Schumer (D-$$), gets taken to task (kind of) in today's Times. Here's the champion of the little guy addressing a couple dozen finance industry executives in the early days of the financial apocalypse:
“We are not going to be a bunch of crazy, anti-business liberals,” one executive said, summarizing Mr. Schumer’s remarks. “We are going to be effective, moderate advocates for sound economic policies, good responsible stewards you can trust.”

The message clearly resonated. The next week, executives at firms represented at the breakfast sent in more than $135,000 in campaign donations.
Fine, fine. Senator from New York. Must cater to the financial industry, given that its long-term solvency and the state's are intertwined. Senator Schumer would naturally then look to ways of ensuring growth and sustainability, right?
But Mr. Schumer, a member of the Banking and Finance Committees, repeatedly took other steps to protect industry players from government oversight and tougher rules, a review of his record shows. Over the years, he has also helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees.

He succeeded in limiting efforts to regulate credit-rating agencies, for example, sponsored legislation that cut fees paid by Wall Street firms to finance government oversight, pushed to allow banks to have lower capital reserves and called for the revision of regulations to make corporations’ balance sheets more transparent.

“Since the financial meltdown, people have been asking, ‘Where was Congress? Why didn’t they see this coming? Why didn’t they provide better oversight?’ ” said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America. “And the answer for some, including Senator Schumer, is that they were actually too busy pursuing a deregulatory agenda. Their focus was on how we have to lighten up regulation on Wall Street.”
Apparently, their focus has not shifted.

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