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Big banks having their way again

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Cheers to the two Minnesota congressmen who sit on the House Agriculture Committee.

Both voted against a measure to exempt derivative trading from the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act.

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Collin Peterson (DFL-7th District, Detroit Lakes) and Tim Walz (DFL-1st District, Mankato) were on the losing side of a 31 to 14 vote on the measure last month.

A little background, courtesy of MapLight, a clean government group:

The 2010 Dodd-Frank bill requires banks to spin off their speculative derivatives activity into non-bank subsidiaries (Section 716) that are not eligible for public funding in case of losses.

But the bill advancing in Congress, H.R. 992 or the “Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act,” would create new exemptions to this requirement that, according to financial reform advocates, would allow banks to keep their publicly-funded backing for almost all of their derivatives activity.

“A vote for H.R. 992 is a vote to expressly allow bailouts of our largest banks on Wall Street,” says Americans for Financial Reform in a letter to the House.

“At a time when there is bipartisan agreement that subsidies to too-big-to-fail banks must end, this legislation moves in exactly the wrong direction.”

The bill was approved by the House Agriculture Committee on March 20 by a bipartisan vote of 31-14.

During the debate, Rep. Collin Peterson compared the bill to past votes that many believe facilitated the financial crisis (the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act), warning his colleagues, “You can vote any way you want, but this could come back and haunt you.”

MapLight has analyzed contributions from the PACs of the four biggest commercial banks (Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup) which collectively hold 93.2 percent ($208 trillion in notional value) of all derivatives contracts, to members of the House Agriculture Committee since 2009.

On average, House Agriculture Committee members voting for H.R. 992 have received nearly eight times as much money from the top four banks as House Agriculture Committee members voting against the bill.

House Agriculture Com-mittee members voting in favor of H.R. 992 have received $9,210, on average, from the top four banks, while House Agriculture Committee members voting against the bill have received$1,179, on average, from the top four banks.

Peterson, the ranking Dem-ocrat on the committee, received $5,000. Walz received $2,000.

The MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to members of the House Agriculture Committee voting on H.R. 922 from the four largest commercial banks since Jan. 1, 2009, was based on latest available data from the FEC as of March 26, and on the roll call provided by the House Agriculture Committee.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican from Texas, received the most, $52,000.

Rep. David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, received the second-most with $41,500.

Others who voted yes received anywhere from $500 to $39,500.

If you’re wondering about the influence of money on policy, keep an eye on Congress through MapLight and similar sites. It can be an eye-opener.

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