Raise Your Hand if You Want Part of the Bailout

Lobbying intense as Wall Street firms jockey to profit from rescue
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2008 8:03 AM CDT
In this photo provided by ABC News, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appears for an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week, in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008.    (AP Photo/ABC News, Fred Watkins)
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(Newser) – Where there’s $700 billion of government money, there are lobbyists. Financial institutions are jockeying for their piece of the massive bailout bill that’s being rushed through Congress, the New York Times reports, with everyone from insurers to mortgage lenders looking to profit by unloading assets under the most favorable terms. Competition is also fierce to manage those assets once the government acquires them, a $1 billion-per-year job.

The scope of the bailout is growing, with "the industry’s fingerprints" all over successive drafts of proposed legislation, the Times notes. Financial firms want to be able to sell all kinds of assets, not just mortgage-related ones, and the latest proposal obliges them, giving the Treasury the discretion to buy “any other financial instrument.” Treasury’s plan is so open-ended it invites all comers, one analyst notes. “The question that I am raising," he tells the Times, is, "Is there any limit?”