Dick Durbin became a United States congressman in 1982 and a United States senator in 1996. He is second highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, where he is the chairman of a financial services subcommittee. And even though he got played by Roland Burris, he's generally a savvy, street smart and skilled partisan fighter who at times has been rumored to be a possible vice presidential nominee.
And he apparently just discovered this week that the banking industry has a lot of pull on Capitol Hill.
"[T]he banks - hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created - are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place," Durbin said on a radio show earlier this week.
Welcome to Washington!
A few days later, after his consumer-oriented "mortgage cramdown bill" was defeated, Durbin took the floor of the Senate to proclaim that “This Senator wants to put the banking interests on notice. I am not going to be a party to shoveling billions more in taxpayers’ dollars your way if you won’t lift a finger to help these people who are facing foreclosure across America today."
Perhaps, but a dozen members of Durbin's own party, which, after all, is in the majority, joined with the opposition to handily defeat his mortgage bill. Maybe Durbin should call out the elected officials who are owned by the banking lobby instead of the banking lobby that owns them.
And what of Durbin's pal the president?
"President Obama sought the cramdown provision during the election, although the White House has done virtually nothing to move it through Congress," the New York Times reports today.
The Times must be talking to the same sources as Politico, which opened its story today this way:
"Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin blames the powerful banking lobby for Thursday’s defeat of legislation he championed empowering bankruptcy judges to modify some troubled mortgages. But some Democrats suggest he look to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as well."
Decrying lobbyists is an easy thing to do. But lobbyists can only succeed when elected officials buy what they're selling.
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, an award-winning Chicago-centric news and culture review.