Meet the TARPsters

MEET THE TARPSTERS…. In 2008, House and Senate majorities approved of TARP rescue of the financial industry, with the support of the Republican leadership in both chambers. Two years later, after the industry had been stabilized, Congress approved a sweeping Wall Street reform package, which is at least intended to establish some safeguards to prevent an ’08-style crisis from happening again.

Those two pieces of legislation aren’t usually tied together, but perhaps they should be.

Zach Carter noted last week there are 90 sitting members of Congress who voted to rescue Wall Street, but two years later, “failed to support financial reform reining in the banks that drove our economy off a cliff.”

This week, David Dayen labels these 90 “The TARPsters.”

We have no idea if financial reform will work, of course, but the perfectly coherent view expressed here is that we can bail out the banksters and then shield them from any meaningful constraints on their profit-taking.

There are 81 Republicans on the list, and only 9 Democrats, the worst of the worst (Marion Berry, Dan Boren, Rick Boucher, Henry Cuellar, Chet Edwards, Harry Mitchell, Solomon Ortiz, Ike Skelton and Zack Space).

In the Senate, no Democrats qualify for the TARPster label. Only one Democrat voted against Wall Street reform — Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, who said he wanted it to go further — but he also voted against the bailout. Among Senate Republicans, however, 21 members fall into the category, and as David noted, relying on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, these GOP senators have collectively taken in nearly $32 million in campaign contributions from the financial industry just this year.

In the House, nine Democrats get the TARPster label, and they’ve accepted over $1 million in donations from the industry. Among House Republicans, 60 voted for the bailout but against Wall Street reform, and they’ve taken in nearly $16 million in campaign contributions from the financial industry just this year.

The debate over the utility, merit, and structure of the TARP program is certainly a fair one, but it’s also fair to think those inclined to rescue the industry probably should have been more willing to bring some safeguards and accountability to Wall Street.