Via the Sunlight Foundation blog, an excellent suggestion from Robert Reich:
…what’s happened to the Wall Street campaign contributions and to [Wall Street’s] lobbyists? They’re still going strong. We now know that many of the financial giants that have been bailed out by taxpayers continue to finance a platoon of Washington lobbyists, who are at this moment trying to influence TARP II and the next attempt to regulate Wall Street….
Would it not be a reasonable condition for receiving additional bailout funds — from TARP II — that a firm cease its lobbying activities and campaign contributions (as well as any contributions it makes indirectly through its executives) at least until it fully compensates taxpayers what we have provided it?
Paul Blumenthal of Sunlight puts it this way: “Essentially, we have taxpayer money cycling from the our wallets, to the government, to a bank, and then to a lobbyist, who then works to get more money for the bank.” He suggests supporting S. 133, a bill from Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Olympia Snowe that addresses Reich’s suggestion.
My $0.02: I suspect if Wall Street firms couldn’t use TARP funds to lobby lawmakers, we would have seen effective limitations on executive pay added to the bailout a long, long time ago.