Last September, when President Barack Obama gave a major speech on Wall Street urging bankers to support financial reform, the CEOs of the nation's megabanks didn't bother to show up -- a move widely interpreted as a sign of disrespect. But those same CEOs found time to get to Capitol Hill to attend a two-day "Financial Services University" for the 20-something congressional aides who will be helping write the rules designed to rein in and reform Wall Street. The instructional seminar was organized by the Financial Services Roundtable, a powerful lobbying group for the finance industry. Many of the staffers in attendance were barely out of college, but they will soon be a position to help draft new rules that will govern how the megabanks can make their money. Richard Davis, CEO of U.S. Bancorp attended, as did Robert Kelly, CEO of the Bank of New York, who told the staffers that bankers support reducing the number of regulators watching the industry. (Kelly told the group the U.S. has "zillions.") The CEOs did not mention the factors that led to the liquidity crunch, like the sky-high leveraged bets made possible by the lack of regulation, or how their actions blew up the economy and nearly destroyed the financial system. Instead, they talked about how the recently-passed credit card reform measures will hurt their companies. Nor did Kelly or Davis mention that the $800 million in revenue they'll miss after the rules go into effect is money they were taking from average Americans through unfair overdraft charges and predatory fees.
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