Because DTCC interfaces with many financial players, Cohen said he has helped to explain, with no partisan slant, the potential outcome of the U.S. not being able to meet its debt obligations. Along with officials from Standard & Poor's and JPMorgan Chase, Cohen said, he participated in a 90-minute briefing for some 55 House Members last week that was organized by Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.).
"We're really the back room of how Wall Street works," Cohen said, "at the intersection of the stocks and bonds, banks, trading companies and their customers."
The meeting was off the record, so Cohen declined to discuss specifics. But he did say a lot of freshman lawmakers attended and asked "good, real serious questions."
Most financial services lobbyists, though, say they're steering clear of the debt debate with the exception of trying to gather intelligence to pass along to their clients. Like other big-business advocates, Wall Street's experts on K Street are reluctant to push for any specific proposals for how Members and the White House should solve the debt limit matter.
"We're not the most beloved right now," one industry executive said. "If we go in and say, 'We need revenue raisers,' they'll say, 'Good, write us a check.'"
A GOP financial services lobbyist agreed, "You'd get a target on your back."
The debt ceiling crisis might be something of a distraction from the financial sector's real top priority of Dodd-Frank, but keeping in touch with the Hill on its own No. 1 issue can be part of crafting and maintaining good Congressional relations.
"You can't just come to town with your hand out," said Cohen, who previously lobbied for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and worked on the Hill for former Rep. Joseph McDade (R-Pa.). "I know, having worked on the Hill, if you can be helpful, that's important."