Wall Street Paying High Price to Keep Cash
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A13
The nascent fight over whether to raise taxes on Wall Street hot shots has become one of the year's biggest lobbying bonanzas.
In order to defeat what amounts to two pieces of tax legislation, those new high rollers of finance -- private equity firms and hedge funds -- have been flooding Washington with money. Even though legislation was introduced just this spring, the buyout firms have already distributed at least $5.5 million in lobbying fees, quadruple what they spent in all of 2006, according to Bloomberg News.
A single lobbying firm -- Ogilvy Government Relations -- received $3.74 million in the first six months of this year from Blackstone Group, one of the world's largest private equity firms. That's the heftiest six-month payment to any lobbyist ever reported -- other than a series of fees delivered from 2003 through 2005 to the law firm now known as Bingham McCutchen.
As Warren Buffett famously noted, his billion dollar income fetches a 15% rate, while his secretary pays 35%.
And these guys have the moxie to lobby Congress to actually keep that in place.
Is this a great country, or what?