That's how much money the Credit Card industry invested in privately bribing the Congress, over the last 90 days, to go easy on them while publically pretending to make regulation more stringent. The total for the first quarter of reported lobbying expenses by the industry: $15.5 Million, total, inform members of the House and Senate Finance and Banking committees responsible for the Legislation's passage and to positively influence their votes.
In the end, though there are some cosmetic improvements for the card-holder, and one or another of the industry's most usurously outrageous practices have been somewhat reined in, when Congress--Pelosi, Hoyer, and Reid; mainly to spare their membership having to vote their political interests and evidently and openly betray their non-corporate constituencies--failed to include imposition of interest rate caps, their investment paid off.
This didn't go completely unnoticed, but it was mostly unremarked. However,(via makethemaccountable.com,) we may sample the commentary of the irrepressibly caustic Matt Taibbi, who engaged in some necessary clarification for the benefit of one hapless LA Times writer:
“Someone needs to stand up” for the credit card companies? Did I hear that right, Michael Hiltzik? [Los Angeles Times: “Credit card companies as evil villains? It's not that simple ”] Apparently it is not enough that the credit card companies have spent $15.5 million on lobbying fees in the first quarter of 2009 alone (this according to CREW, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), while employees of credit card companies spent an additional $14.5 million last year, and credit PACs spent $8.6 million more ...$Sum = 38.6 in the last 15 mos. Just over $2.5 MILLION per month. And more than $5 MILLION/month for the last three months. I'm gonna repeat that: And more than $5 MILLION/month for the last three months.
And that's just one industry. Not the biggest one, though impressively large. Think about Big Pharma, and Health Insurance, and the Whole Chambers of Commerce crowds. These Congress-fuckers are swimming in cash, and they're NEVER on any planet with a BLUE sky vote against the interests of those who keep the pool full and the liquor flowing.
(aside: You gotta wonder HOW they spend that kinda money, doncha? Makesya go all agog, considering, innit? How does one spend almost FORTY MILLION fucking DOLLARS to "influence" (buy) the votes of fewer than 50 law-makers, in toto in just over 15 months? What the fuck does one BUY, with almost FORTY MILLION fucking DOLLARS? )
I have tried on several occasions to describe why I think the closest approximation of an operable metaphor for the way our national financial arrangements are and have been conducted is a no-limit poker tournament. By the time you get "into the money;" that is, get to the Fed or BoA, and start getting a pay-out beyond your buy-in--it's not real money anymore, it's OTHER PEOPLE's money. Play money, in a 'game' where the Banksters hold the "big stack."
And there's only one winner. No ties. The winner is the one who holds ALL the chips.
If the people were in such a game, they'd be 'dead money,' there to be collected by the sharks, going in. But thep people aren't players at the table. No. The people are the stakes, the chips, the tokens to keep track of the betting.
Unlike the card game, where the chips have only nominal value, each of the poker chips on the table is actually the life, and hopes and chances of one citizen, reduced to a single, interchangeable icon. And they're frittered away like pocket-change.
A tip for the Dealer?
They become too big to fail, we become too small to notice...