WASHINGTON - In a collective effort to help shape banking reform legislation, the American Bankers Association, represented by 900 bankers, put together a grassroots push on Capitol Hill last week, the Washington Post reports.
Collectively, the group is mounting a broad fight that touches several issues: it is protesting the creation of a new consumer financial protection regulator; it is arguing that national banks should remain exempt from state consumer laws; and it is advocating that the Federal Reserve retain oversight powers for some state-chartered banks.
In addition to bankers, investment banks, hedge funds, automakers and credit card companies are deeply concerned about Congress' review of financial regularly overhaul.
"The thing about this bill is that it's so broad," said one anonymous lobbyist. "The bill impacts not just the Goldman Sachses and Morgan Stanleys, but a huge swath of companies."
Many lobbyists preferred to talk off the record and were hesitant to appear to be opposing stricter financial regulation for reasons of perception. "Who is hated more than congressmen?" asked one GOP lobbyist. "Bankers."
Large banks are opposed to any proposal that attempts to restrict banks' "risky" trading activities, which previously have proved profitable. "That is the thing that could send a lot of the big guys over the edge," said one lobbyist.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) remarked that "there's nothing evil" about industry members expressing concerns about proposed legislation," but he warned lobbyists who are expecting to "browbeat lawmakers" into acquiescence. "[T]hey're wasting their time," he said.