Saturday, June 26, 2010
Lobbyists getting down to productive work
On influencing the Frank-ly-A-Dudd bill, where they have the least exposure to the public and the most influence on people who want a job after they leave government, the regulations that have to be drawn up to make the law work.
The bill, completed early Friday and expected to come up for a final vote this week, is basically a 2,000-page missive to federal agencies, instructing regulators to address subjects ranging from derivatives trading to document retention. But it is notably short on specifics, giving regulators significant power to determine its impact — and giving partisans on both sides a second chance to influence the outcome.So even what looks really good in the bill that came out of committee can end up as a massive WTF after the experts, bean counters and lawyers get done with it. Especially the lawyers.
The much-debated prohibition on banks investing their own money, for example, leaves it up to regulators to set the exact boundaries. Lobbyists for Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and other large banks already are pressing to exclude some kinds of lucrative trading from that definition.
Regulators are charged with deciding how much money banks have to set aside against unexpected losses, so the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents large financial companies, and other banking groups have been making a case to the regulators that squeezing too hard would hurt the economy.
Consumer groups, meanwhile, are mobilizing to make sure that regulators deliver on promised protections for borrowers and investors. They worry that the shift from Capitol Hill to the offices of regulators could put the groups at a disadvantage.
“It’s out of the public eye, so a natural advantage that we benefit from — public outrage — we lose that a little,” said Cristina Martin Firvida, a lobbyist for AARP, which advocates for older Americans. “We know there’s still a lot here left to do.”
One clear consequence is a surge in the demand for lawyers with expertise in financial regulation, particularly those who have worked for regulatory agencies. Most of the major trade groups are hiring lawyers. The major banks say they are employing more, too.
The surge in hiring has sent a joke bouncing around Washington: Congress finally passed a jobs bill — full employment for lawyers.
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