If your goal were to foster more political cronyism, reward lobbyists, entrench incumbents, enrich the politically connected, and get the revolving door spinning faster, you would have a hard time crafting a more useful piece of legislation than the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.
Not only did the bill's authors instantly start monetizing their legislative experience by cashing out to work for the big banks (see Amy Friend, former chief counsel for Sen. Dodd's Banking Committee); not only to Goldman Sachs declare itself "among the biggest beneficiaries" of the bill; not only did the bill give Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Barney Frank an excuse to start tapping into Wall Street wealth in exchange for favorable implementation -- it also set up a tawdry battle between retailers and banks, in which politicians and their lobbyist friends are guaranteed winners.
Sen. Dick Durbin added an amendment to Dodd-Frank giving the Federal Reserve the right to set the rate which banks can charge retails using the banks' debit cards. Wal-Mart was a leading champion of this regulation. As you can imagine, banks lobbied hard against this rule.
This year, Sen. Jon Tester proposed a measure to delay this regulation. It set off an epic lobbying battle. Notably, Tester's former senior economic advisor, Jason Rosenberg, is a lobbyist for the American Bankers Association, a leading supporter of Tester's amendment.
A former Durbin aide, Danielle Baierlein, is now a lobbyist at the Podesta Group, which represents Wal-Mart on Dodd-Frank implementation.
There's plenty more revolving door stuff under the surface, but in this light, you can better understand what Durbin said on the floor yesterday:
"A friend of mine who is a lobbyist downtown in Washington said, 'Durbin, praise the Lord. Come up with some more ideas. This is a full employment amendment. Everybody who is a lobbyist in Washington is working on this amendment. We just love you to pieces,’"
The easy story to discern here is that when government increases its control over the economy, it's good for lobbyists. But don't forget the benefit to the politicians, too.
After all, Rosenberg, since cashing out, is now a donor to Tester and Schumer. Tony Podesta who employ's Durbin's old aide as a Wal-Mart lobbyist, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Churning out more lobbyists and giving them more work turns out to be beneficial to politicians, too.