A new report issued by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation concluded that multibillion-dollar contributions to Washington politicians have resulted in deregulatory decisions that led to the current financial crisis.
Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America reveals the financial sector hired some 3,000 lobbyists over the last ten years and invested more than $5 billion to buy political influence.
The report also found that 142 of the lobbyists the financial industry employed from 1998-2008 were previously high-ranking government officials.
"Congress and the executive branch responded to the legal bribes from the financial sector, rolling back common-sense standards [and] barring honest regulators from issuing rules to address emerging problems," says Robert Weissman of Essential Information.
He adds that the contributions also prevented enforcement of the existing rules leading to an erosion of regulation that opened the door to the bad loans and bets that now litter the financial landscape.
"Washington systematically sold out to Wall Street," concludes Harvey Rosenfield, president of the Consumer Education Foundation. "Americans were betrayed, and we are paying a high price – trillions of dollars – for that betrayal."