Wall Street continues to shovel more than a hundred million dollars every three months into lobbying efforts, much of it to try and delay or reverse rules aimed at reforming the industry, according to new data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Financial services companies and their trade groups spent $105 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2011. That’s nearly identical to the previous quarter, when they spent $105.4 million.
“We’re seeing incredible sums being spent to ensure that Wall Street’s views and perspectives are heard,” says Michael Beckel, a spokesman for the center. “The average citizen is not showing up with $10 million backing them.”
The biggest spender was the insurance industry, which invested $24.3 million in the last three months on lobbying, down slightly from the $25.2 the industry spent in the first three months of this year. Securities and investment firms spent $24.3 million, down $900,000 from the previous quarter.
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Other sectors boosted their efforts. Commercial banks spent $16.6 million to lobby Congress and federal agencies in the second quarter, over half a million more than the previous quarter. The real estate industry had the biggest increase, writing $18.2 million in checks to lobbyists in the last quarter, up from $14.1 million the previous three months.
While it’s impossible to say exactly what all those lobbyists are talking about, much of the increase in lobbying by Wall Street in recent years is attributable to financial companies trying to fight the Dodd-Frank financial reform act of 2010, Beckel says. The bill imposed significant new rules on financial services firms to boost consumer protection and end conflicts of interest that caused the 2007 economic crash.
But the law left many of the details to be worked out by federal regulatory agencies. That’s where much of the lobbying by Wall Street is concentrated now, Beckel says. In addition, Republican members of Congress, with support from the financial industry, have introduced bills to amend Dodd-Frank, including measures that would limit the budget and power of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Wall Street firms doubled their spending on lobbying from 1998 to 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. With all the fighting over Dodd-Frank, that increase appears to have no end in sight.
“The overarching trend has been up, up, up, in terms of more and more money being poured into lobbying every year,” Beckel says.
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Image: Corey Balazowich, via Flickr.com
This article was updated to correct the spelling of Michael Beckel’s name.