When David Stevens announced that he was leaving his post as commissioner of the Federal Housing Authority last week, he claimed he had no plans in the works. But Stevens was just being modest. In reality, he's about to become a powerful lobbyist as the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association. But it's no wonder the lobby was interested in snatching him up. Since joining the FHA in 2009, Stevens "had a hand in most of the Obama administration's housing and mortgage policies over the past year and half — almost of which have involved subsidies for housing and giveaways to banks," says CNBC's John Carney. Former FCC chair Michael K. Powell is following a similar trajectory. He's poised to head the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
Again, the lobby's interest is hardly surprising. During Powell's four-year tenure from 2001 to 2005, he was known for his attempt to remove restrictions on media conglomerates, most of which were thrown out on appeal. He was also known for coining the term the "Mercedes divide" in 2001. As Ars Technica noted, it was a phrase that came to symbolize Bush-era politics. It all came about when a Chicago Tribune reporter asked Powell how he dealt with the "so-called digital divide," Powell responded:
"You know, I think there's a Mercedes divide. I'd like to have one. I can't afford one."
If you're a
really good industry-friendly regulator, Washington, D.C.'s revolving door will be sure to close that divide up eventually.