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Democrats, Republicans just can't quit Wall Street money

To think clearly about the overriding importance of money in campaigns, consider the degree to which politicians will court political disaster in order to raise a few more bucks. A couple of weeks ago, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn took some time out of bashing bank bailouts to meet with a bunch of Wall Street executives. Democrats reacted with glee, and have hammered the Republicans for the meetings ever since. "McConnell won't provide details of Wall Street meeting," read one recent DNC press release.

And then you read this:

While Democrats push Wall Street regulations on the Senate floor, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will head to Manhattan on Monday for a fundraiser with deep-pocketed donors who have ties to the financial industry.

According to an invitation obtained by POLITICO, the fundraiser is billed as a “political discussion” for those who want to contribute up to $10,000 for Gillibrand’s reelection campaign and spend Monday evening with the two Democratic senators.

Democrats know exactly how politically dangerous it is to raise funds on Wall Street right now. But they're doing it anyway. Both parties, in fact, know the risks and are choosing to take the hit rather than forgo the cash. This isn't because they love being attacked or even think that the toxicity of Wall Street is overstated. It's because, to use a metaphor that's in vogue right now, our system of campaign finance turns politicians into vampire squids wrapped around the wallets of the rich, relentlessly jamming their blood funnels into anything that smells like money.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 30, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
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I love how Ezra uses language to rob pols and rich guys of agency. The "system of campaign finance" turns pols into vampire squids attacking the wallets of those poor rich people, huh? I think both parties to the transaction get exactly what they want out of it. They have the system that allows them to do what they already want to do, thank you very much.

Posted by: redscott1 | April 30, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The fact remains, 58 out of 59 Democrats wanted sweeping reform of Wall St. Every Senate Republican did not.

Posted by: costigan1 | April 30, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"I love how Ezra uses language to rob pols and rich guys of agency. The "system of campaign finance" turns pols into vampire squids attacking the wallets of those poor rich people, huh? I think both parties to the transaction get exactly what they want out of it. They have the system that allows them to do what they already want to do, thank you very much."

the system could work if people didnt act like vampire squids.
for gillibrand to do this, is an act that shows no consciousness, no sentience, no empathy.
this is how animals act in the lower food chain, without consciousness about their actions.
just take whatever you can get.
i had a hummingbird nest outside of my window.
the baby hummingbird, after one month of constant nurturing, was a few days away from flying.
but yesterday, a raven came, and swooped down and took the baby. the mother was frantic. it was horrible to watch.
but these politicians act no differently than ravens.
they will take what they can, without any consciousness of what they are doing, who is watching, how their actions compromise the rest of society.
this is normal for ravens and vampire squids, but it is not supposed to be normal for human beings who are supposed to be enlightened and are elected into public service.
more and more, i see the need for big government. it is paradoxical, because we have so many ravens and vampire squids in higher office, supposed watching out for all of us.
but without government safety nets, if everything were privatized, there would be no hope for any of us, unless we were ravens and vampire squids also.
this is all about human beings not stay human.
we are not supposed to be acting like lower animals in the food chain... rapaciously .prowling about, looking for a good meal.
animals at least, take what they need, and not more.
but what do these human beings do?
they would take everything and leave nothing.
we are not supposed to be like this.

Posted by: jkaren | April 30, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

how many sanctions can you create to stop crafty, selfish people from taking as much as they possibly can?
if the have no real conscience, no inner sense of accountability, they just keep inventing ways to outwit any system. it is maddening to watch.

it is as if they need to be put in strait jackets to stop them from being corrupt. it just never seems to stop.

Posted by: jkaren | April 30, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The headline "Democrats, Republicans just can't quit Wall Street money" is accurate. Delete the words "Wall Street" and the headline is no less accurate.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 30, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Dodd's giving up his seat! Why does he need the money? What a crook.

I really would have paid to see him debate Peter Schiff if the two of them had gone head to head for the Conn seat.

Posted by: staticvars | April 30, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The problem isn't the specific sector they go to for the money, it's just the need to amass huge campaign funds in the first place. If the Republicans do it then the Dems have to follow suit or risk being outspent. It becomes tough to stand on principle as your opponent massively outspends you. Once you bring money into the equation, you guarantee corruption.

I'm sure there are issues with it and it would NEVER pass Congress (fox and hen house metaphor) but I keep thinking (fantasizing?) what if we could outlaw corporate campaign donations? Allow individual contributions only. After all the Constitution was written for a government by and of the "people" not corporations. Of course companies would find loopholes, but it would be much tougher to slip $500K donations into politician's pockets. I know it's purely a fantasy, but it seems like a good one to me.


Posted by: erikprince | April 30, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Dodd is the only politician I've ever given money to, and I did it after he introduced the bill several years ago to nullify the telco's retroactive immunity on warrantless wiretapping.

His actions since that day remind me why he was only the first to get money from me, and why he will be the last.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 30, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I'll keep saying it until we get it: public campaign financing.

The Fair Elections Now Act is up to 149 cosponsors in the House. Tell your representative to support it. I've talked to some of these people; they tell me they're sick of raising money, and it's a lousy use of their time. If we want them to be independent of private interests, we have to provide them with a viable alternative.

Posted by: dasimon | April 30, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure only Repubicans are swayed by campaign contributions. Democrats are too principled to be swayed by money. I'm sure all that Fannie and Freddie money that went into Franks and Dodds funds didn't sway them at all in preventing legislation of Frannie and Freddie. Obviously they were really dumb enough to think those 2 institutions were solid and on strong footing.

Posted by: jschmidt2 | May 1, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

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