By Colin Barr
April 29, 2010

Or so Sen. Ensign seems to be saying.

Is it possible there aren’t enough lobbyists running around Washington right now? That seems to be the way Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., sees it.

Ensign asked Goldman

finance chief David Viniar at Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations what changes he would make to financial regulations to prevent another global financial bust.

Viniar replied that he believes banks should have to carry more capital against illiquid assets and ample cash to see their way through a market squeeze. But before he offered that uncontroversial judgment, he hesitated for a moment – prompting Ensign to beseech him for his expertise on the workings of the financial system.

The Senate, after all, is pondering the merits of financial regulatory reform. It’s a task Ensign, at least, doesn’t seem to feel up to at the moment.

“Congress doesn’t have enough expertise to draft this law right now,” Ensign said.

This despite the millions of dollars Goldman and the other Wall Street banks have spent on lobbying Congress as regulatory reform stumbles forward. The six biggest banks spent $6.6 million in the first quarter, and Goldman’s lobbying spending rose 72% from a year ago, the Center for Responsive Politics said.

But perhaps that’s not all that much when you consider that Goldman made $3.3 billion in the first quarter. Just think of all the expertise Congress could get access to if Lloyd Blankfein would loosen the purse strings a bit.

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