Why Wall Street’s Political Poison Is Still Catnip for Many Incumbents

Today’s quiz: At a time when California’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is losing ground her Republican rival in the primary because of her ties to Wall Street, when Utah’s incumbent Senator Robert Bennett was just booted out by Republicans who are furious that he voted to bailout Wall Street, when New Jersey’s Jon Corzine lost his bid for reelection partly because of he was formerly head of Goldman Sachs, when Connecticut’s Chris Dodd was so tarnished by his close ties to Wall Street that polls showed he had little chance of reelection — at a time, in other words, when Wall Street is political poison, why are politicians still so intent on doing its bidding?

Answer: Wall Street’s money for upcoming campaigns.

Case in point: The measure in the banking bill that would force banks to push their derivative trading into separate units rather than rely on tax-payer subsidized insured deposits. For reasons I’ve already stated, the measure is common sensical.

Wall Street hates it because it would cost it billions.

Already New York Representative Michael McMahon says he’ll work to remove it from the bill. Yesterday, New York Representative Gary Ackerman, also a member of the finance committee, told his staff to circulate a draft letter yesterday to House members seeking their opposition to it.

Watch who signs Ackerman’s letter. Listen for the positions of members of the conference committee. Vote accordingly next fall.

About Robert Reich 545 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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