Bankers party like it's still 2006 -- with your money


The Service Employees International Union reports

that the American Bankers Association is having a conference this weekend. The ABA is a trade group and powerful lobbying organization representing the banking industry. Because so many of its members received bailout money, it's fair to say that U.S. taxpayers are paying for this party.

Here's what the bankers will have to look forward to:

  • a luxurious riverboat cruise

  • a historical mansion tour

  • a roaring 1920s big band gala

  • celebrity appearances by Newt Gingrich & George Will

The first three sound like fun, but to be fair, having to sit through a Newt Gingrich speech is probably an excessive punishment for destroying the economy.

Gingrich is a strange choice to speak at the ABA party because he was, to his credit, a vocal opponent of the bailouts. Back in September of 2008, he was asked about the TARP plan on NPR and provided a surprisingly candid answer: "Well, I think you have a Goldman Sachs chief of staff to the president and the Goldman Sachs secretary of the Treasury. And they convinced the president that the American people ought to send $700 billion to Wall Street, which I think is a very, very bad idea, and I would argue is a very un-Republican idea. I don't understand what they think they're doing."

And yet now he's speaking at a conference for an organization that lobbied for the bailout -- and against regulation to prevent future financial disasters.

Worse? The money that he'll be paid for speaking will come -- in a distant sort of way -- out of the very bailout package that he so vocally-opposed. Everyone has his price, apparently.