Ushering Eric Cantor to revolving door
By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The following is a fictional letter that could be circulated in the corridors of K Street, the canyons of Wall Street and the hedgerows of the Hamptons this summer:
From the desk of Rick Rooter, Executive Placement Specialist
Dear Sirs and Madams:
I am writing to you as the exclusive agent for a former high-ranking member of the House of Representatives who will soon be eligible for employment by your organization. My client has asked to remain anonymous until he has cleared all remaining business with the current Congress, though the following will provide you with sufficient information based on his voting record, extensive legislative experience and public statements to assist with your consideration of his candidacy as a senior adviser to your business, both in counseling executives on important public policy matters and engaging with your clients on the same.
In the first instance, my client is particularly well suited for Wall Street despite never having worked directly in the financial industry. As you shall see, though, his qualifications extend far beyond banking, with a deep record of defending the interests of the food, restaurant and tobacco industries, and other major employers of import to the United States economy.
The aforementioned candidate fought hard in the legislative trenches against the bureaucratic forces threatening the lifeblood of American capitalism. He was a staunch opponent of the onerous Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a proposal opposed by institutions large and small, and their respective trade associations. Ahead of the legislation’s passage just over four years ago, the candidate called the legislation “a clear attack on capital formation in America.”
Though the candidate’s district did not include institutions deemed “too big to fail,” it was his judgment that the red tape proposed by Dodd-Frank’s voluminous scope would weaken the engines of credit essential to growth. My client stands firmly by his 2010 contention that “Dodd-Frank is the product of a tired and discredited philosophy. It’s the notion that you can solve a problem by reflexively piling vast new layers of bureaucracy, regulatory costs, and taxes on it.”
My client spent little time crafting actual laws for the finance industry, and would admit that he has little formal finance training and no actual markets experience. He nevertheless clearly understands how high finance works. He was one of only a handful of Republicans bold enough to vote for the 2008 bailout the first time the House attempted to pass the measure. He also worked with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to ensure the bill would pass the second time around.
The financial industry has actively endorsed his valiant efforts, with campaign contributions totaling more than $8 million over seven congressional campaigns, and $1.8 million in the last election alone, though anti-banking extremists within his own party rendered this final attempt unsuccessful. He was the top recipient of investment firm dollars in Congress this cycle and the second-highest for securities firms after Speaker John Boehner. The candidate sees his recent setback as an opportunity to become a part of an industry facing existential challenges, and where he can have an impact that goes well beyond the corridor between Wall Street and Washington.
Beyond finance, the aforementioned candidate has bravely shielded the welfare of our most successful gastronomic entrepreneurs against needless bureaucracy and judicial frivolity. This makes him an ideal prospect to help continue that fight for, among others, the National Restaurant Association and individual corporations facing regulatory burdens at home and abroad, notably in China, where his international experience is of incalculable value.
In December 2010, our client voted against a deliberate attempt by Congress to force food companies into expanded record-keeping, fee-collection and other unnecessary intrusions into their businesses under the inappropriately named FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which unfortunately passed through the 111th Congress, the last to be led by Democrats. Even so, the candidate was enormously successful in pushing forward critical protections for the country’s leading purveyors of rapid nutrition against the rapacious plaintiff’s bar.
In 2004, he helped ensure the passage of HR 339, otherwise known as “the Cheeseburger Bill.” The law was designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits against the manufacturers, distributors or sellers of food or non-alcoholic beverages that comply with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. The candidate courageously testified in support of the proposal.
Finally, our client succeeded in ensuring certain safeguards for the tobacco industry. Among those included in the 2008 FDA Regulation of Tobacco bill is a specific prohibition of the FDA from banning all tobacco-related products or requiring the elimination of nicotine yields, which are essential to ensuring consistent use by consumers of tobacco products. It also prevents the FDA from elevating the minimum legal age of tobacco use to higher than 18, ensuring a steady supply of new entrants to the tobacco consumption complex.
As you can see, there can be no better advocate for your business, your shareholders and your customers than the client we are now representing. We look forward to discussing his imminent collaboration with you in coming weeks.
Executive Placement Specialists
Glen Allen, Virginia