An Investment of Sorts

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Can you take campaign contributions from Wall Street firms with one hand, and slap new regulations on them with the other asks the Baltimore Sun? As the tide of campaign money from brokerages and investment firms shifts towards the Democratic candidates for President how might the economic philosophies of each candidate be effected?

As the Federal Reserve brokers the Bear Sterns bailout -- probably not the last time they'll be coming to aid of a Wall Street fixture this year -- economic populists decry special treatment for corporate America while so much of middle and lower-income America continues to feel the squeeze of high energy prices, a poor job market, and the subprime lending fallout. They're understandably perturbed to see the trend of campaign contributions towards the party that had traditionally wanted to impose stricter regulations on the financial industry:


"I want to hear Clinton, Obama and McCain talk about a quid pro quo," says Jared Bernstein, an economist with the Democratic-leaning Economic Policy Institute. "If we don't hear it, especially from Democrats, it makes sense to ask why not and ask if they are inappropriately cozy with the financial services industry."

The flow of campaign cash is a measure of how open-fisted banks and other financial institutions have been to politicians of both parties. Concern is being raised that, "no matter who the Democratic nominee is and who wins in November, Wall Street will have a friend in the White House," said Massie Ritsch of the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations. "The door will be open to these big banks."

Of course the candidates steadfastly deny that any money from Wall Street firms will influence their economic policy making. I don't think anyone's suggesting that Hillary Clinton is going to finger a single $2,300 check and do a policy 180 on foreclosure protection, but when the same people can be found on the donor rolls of every occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. regardless of party, you've got to believe there a motivation beyond the purely idealogical for their political giving. And, fun as I hear it is, I don't think it's an invitation to the annual Easter Egg Roll.