Reader Supported News | June 14 2012
OPINION ~ BILL MOYERS: This week Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase testified before the Senate Banking Committee on how his bank got it wrong on risk management– in London. What would you think if I told you that seven members of the Senate Banking Committee have been big recipients of money from JPMorgan Chase?
THOMAS FRANK: I would not be surprised, (LAUGH) not in the least. That’s obviously where JPMorgan would be spending its lobbying dollar would be on the– the– you know, giving to the campaigns of the people on that committee. That’s the wisest strategic choice for them.
BILL MOYERS: And get this. The bank has been the second largest contributor to Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat, the chairman of the committee . What do you suppose he was thinking as Jamie Dimon testified “Those are great cufflinks Jamie has on. I wonder if I could borrow them.”
THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, something like that. And I got news for you. They also — I mean, you know this already — they also were one of the biggest donors– or I should say they’re employees to President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and also to, I believe, John McCain’s campaign in 2008. This is the nature of what they do. They spread their wealth around, you know.
BILL MOYERS: And there’s more. One of Senator Johnson’s former staffers is now one of JPMorgan’s chief lobbyists. And the chairman’s present top assistant used to be a lobbyist for a law firm that worked for JPMorgan. I mean, this wasn’t a hearing. This was a reunion of the Gambino family.
THOMAS FRANK: Well, look, this is what we call in Washington the revolving door, okay. And this — if your viewers haven’t heard of this they need to learn about it right away ’cause this is how Washington D.C. works– is that people go back and forth typically from Capitol Hill staffs to working for lobby firms or directly for these, you know, the clients of the lobby firms that have to do with the interests that they used to work on when they were on Capitol Hill.
And then they go back and lobby for their to their former boss, right, and convince him or her to vote one way or the other. And that’s how you get ahead in lobbying is you start out working for someone on Capitol Hill, a powerful senator on a given committee.
And then you go and and essentially sell that expertise, sell that the fact that you’re friends with that guy to, you know, to a lobbying firm or to a bank or to whoever. That’s totally how it works.
But it also has this other aspect to it that’s much more nefarious that we have trouble getting our heads around and that is the very fact that this exists, that this relationship exists and that everybody on Capitol Hill knows not necessarily the congressmen and senators, but their staffers know that they could drop what they’re doing and go work for a lobby firm and make this kind of, you know, fantastic money, you know, these princely, amazing sums if they do the, you know, right thing for this– for this company that naturally– precludes them from certain kinds of legislative– you know, from– from going in a certain direction. They want to please those companies even when they don’t work for those companies because that’s their future employer and everybody knows it.