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House GOP To Pass Bill Benefiting Their Wall Street Donors

June 8, 2017 | Adam Smith

House Republicans will vote Thursday on legislation to “undo much of” the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill passed after the 2008 economic collapse, rewarding an industry that spent millions to help Republicans maintain their majority in the 2016 election while many Americans are still feeling the lingering financial pain of the financial collapse.

Dodd-Frank contains safeguards to prevent future crashes and bailouts, so that we can avoid reliving the experience of Americans lose their homes and jobs due to recklessness on Wall Street.

Yet we have a political system in which politicians have to spend their time raising money from big donors in order to make it in Washington—and that has meant letting Wall Street wheelers and dealers have the ear of our politicians, instead of those Americans who are struggling to keep a decent roof over their head following the crash.

The result is that Republicans are poised to pass legislation that would help out Wall Street by re-rigging the rules in their favor.  The Financial CHOICE Act would disregard the lessons from the 2008 crisis and, according to the Center for American Progress, “make the real economy far more vulnerable to the daily ravages of the worst financial practices.”

In the short term, it’ll help Wall Street donors—but could wreak havoc on everyone else.

Here are some key facts about the campaign cash Speaker Ryan and his colleagues received from Wall Street donors in the 2016 election cycle, based on Every Voice analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan received $3 million directly to his campaign and leadership PAC in the 2016 election from the executives and PACs of securities and investment companies and commercial banks. In fact, three of his top five giving donors are Wall Street firms or banks—Elliott Management, Bank of America, and Blackstone Group. He received over $6 million from the entire financial sector that includes financial companies, insurance, and real estate (FIRE).
  • A super PAC with close ties to Ryan, the Congressional Leadership Fund, raised millions of dollars in 2016 from Wall Street billionaires like Stephen Schwarzman ($1.7 million), Paul Singer ($1.9 million), and Ken Griffin ($1 million)—who once said the wealthy have “insufficient influence” in politics.
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a major proponent of repealing Dodd-Frank, received $417,000 from securities and investment firms and nearly $400,000 from commercial banks in the 2016 election. In fact, they make up two of his top five giving industries to his campaign and leadership PAC.
  • Overall the finance, insurance, and real estate sector (FIRE) gave $130 million to House members in the 2016 election, with a full 63 percent going to Republican members.

When the House votes to roll back these protections put in place after Wall Street wrecked our economy, are they doing it because it’s what best for all Americans, or because it’s what’s best for an industry that plays such a huge role in keeping them in office?

That’s the problem with our current, broken campaign finance system. Members of Congress spend all their timing raising money from an elite set of wealthy donors they depend on to keep their job while ignoring constituents and their concerns–like Paul Ryan, who has held nearly fifty fundraisers over the last month and not a single town hall.

We need a better system—one that puts the interests of everyday people ahead of big donors and special interests. That’s why we support legislation like Rep. John Sarbanes’ Government by the People Act. It would give everyday people a bigger voice in politics by encouraging candidates to raise small-dollar donations that would be matched on a six-to-one basis. With the Government by the People Act, members of Congress could focus on their job and their constituents, not dialing for dollars from lobbyists and special interests hoping for special favors.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.