Wednesday, February 24, 2010

wall st. banking on republicans...,

WaPo | Commercial banks and high-flying investment firms have shifted their political contributions toward Republicans in recent months amid harsh rhetoric from Democrats about fat bank profits, generous bonuses and stingy lending policies on Wall Street.

The wealthy securities and investment industry, for example, went from giving 2 to 1 to Democrats at the start of 2009 to providing almost half of its donations to Republicans by the end of the year, according to new data compiled for The Washington Post by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Commercial banks and their employees also returned to their traditional tilt in favor of the GOP after a brief dalliance with Democrats, giving nearly twice as much to Republicans during the last three months of 2009, the data show. At the same time, total political donations by the major banks and investment houses alike dropped in the waning months of that year.

The nascent shift came even before the White House announced proposals for a new tax on banks and a curb on some of their riskiest trading activities.

The proposals, offered last month, particularly alarmed Wall Street and have triggered renewed industry efforts to work with Democrats as well as Republicans on regulatory reform legislation that the bankers can live with, according to industry and government officials. Wall Street executives would prefer to engage with Democratic leaders now rather than face prolonged uncertainty about the rules to govern the industry, the sources said.

The new campaign contributions data underscore the political quandary facing Democrats, who want Wall Street donations to help fend off a GOP resurgence in congressional elections this fall but hope to distance themselves from an industry vilified by the public as greedy and ungrateful. President Obama has sought to strike a balance, calling outsize Wall Street bonuses "shameful" and "obscene" while also assuring business executives that he does not "begrudge people success or wealth."