Bailed-out Banks on K St. Spree

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Bailed-out automakers like General Motors and Chrysler and their banking brethren who the government rescued in 2008 and 2009 are on a K Street shopping spree. As The Hill reports today, those companies that pleaded for billions in government funding to stay afloat are now hiring the top lobbying firepower that Washington has to offer, making sure their voices are heard as Congress tackles a spate of new bills like comprehensive financial-reform and health-care legislation.

General Motors, for instance, has hired three big lobbying outfits—Public Strategies, Navigators, and Dutko Worldwide—to press lawmakers on issues such as tax reform and auto safety, the latter a hot-button issue given the recent hearings in Congress on Toyota’s safety woes. And two big-name players in the banking world—Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley—have ramped up their lobbying arsenal as well in the past two or three months. In December and January, Goldman hired the Harold Ford Group and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to lobby on financial-reform legislation, and Morgan Stanley retained the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in January to work on financial-reform—an issue that could have seismic effects on how the two firms and the rest of Wall Street do business.

This ramp-up of lobbying firepower, especially among the big banks, almost surely means a weaker financial-reform bill will emerge from Congress. As our own Kevin Drum reported earlier this year, Big Finance’s foot soldiers in Washington pretty much own capital already. And if Goldman and its allies are now beefing up their ranks even more, you can bet they’ll win more than a few victories in watering down any effort, however well-intended, to rein in the big banks.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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