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Report: Congress Listened More to Wall Street than Main Street

September 29, 2008

Minneapolis, MN – As Congress prepares for today's vote on a taxpayer-funded bailout of the financial industry, a new report finds campaign contributions and lobbying by the financial industry may have caused lawmakers to pay more attention to Wall Street than to their constituents on Main Street. And some of the fallout is being felt in Minnesota.

Mike Dean, with the study's sponsor, Common Cause, says mortgage brokers and bankers have paid millions of dollars this decade to head off tighter industry regulation.

"Fifty thousand dollars of that money came in to campaign contributions for the Minnesota Congressional delegation. We're very concerned about the influence that was put on them to look the other way as these problems continued to explode."

Minnesota consumers are feeling the financial mess, right in their pocketbook, says Dean.

"Home prices have gone down significantly. If you look around, you're sure to see a lot more for sale right now. It's also become much more difficult to get these types of mortgages, because of the tightness in the credit market."

One in five sub-prime mortgages issued since 2006 in the state will end in foreclosure, Dean adds.

He says the financial collapse shows we need changes in how campaigns are paid for because, under the current system, government isn't working for the voters--rather, it's working for special interests.

"They spent millions and millions here in Minnesota, which limits our influence over those elected officials. We think we need to look at a public financing system that keeps the special interests out."

Common Cause believes Congress could have avoided the worst had it listened to its constituents and consumer groups and held the financial industry more accountable.

The report is at available at www.commoncause.org.

Jim Wishner/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MN