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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

When the Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of Rent-A-Center in another controversial 5-4 decision, the justices again put the interests of corporations above those of the people.

The New York Times published this great editorial about it over the weekend, highlighting the absurdity of SCOTUS’s decision:

The court ruled last Monday there was nothing wrong with requiring that the fairness of an arbitration clause be determined by — an arbitrator.

Congress is working to fix the problems with mandatory binding arbitration agreements as the members hash through the Arbitration Fairness Act (H.R. 1020 and S. 931) and the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 1237 and S. 512).

While it was scheduled for markup last week, the committee did not get to the AFA and the nursing home bill last Wednesday. Stay tuned for a rescheduled date for Congressional action on these bills because your representatives in Congress will need to hear from you.

Learn more about forced arbitration and the problems with it.

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The army of “revolving door” lobbyists bidding for the financial services industry is even larger that we thought. After combing through Senate lobbying disclosure records, we reported in November that at least 940 lobbyists in the financial services sector.

This week, we partnered with the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) on an update to that report that included data from CRP’s in-house revolving doors database (catching lobbyists who do not report to their employment histories on their lobbying disclosure forms) as well as Senate records showing an additional two reporting quarters.

The result: At least 1,447 of the lobbyists employed by the financial services sector since 2009 previously held a government job. That is nearly 56 percent of the 2,603 lobbyists, all told, who worked for the sector in the time period.

Among these “revolving doors” are 73 former (more…)

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While we expected lobbyists for opponents of strong derivatives reform to have something to say about the legislation to reform the industry, maybe we didn’t expect them to come out with such fervor. Turns out they outnumber the pro-reform lobbyists by 11-1, a Public Citizen report found. That’s right, when it comes to financial reform, Wall Street has thrown 903 lobbyists against our 79. This means we have to work 11 times as hard to make sure We, the People are protected in this legislation. We could use your help. Take action.

From the press release:

“Wall Street is fighting hard to keep its casino open for business,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “They want to keep making risky bets, awarding themselves billions in bonuses and running to Uncle Sam for handouts when they lose. Their position is ridiculous and discredited, so it’s not surprising that they would hire nearly a thousand lobbyists to drown out reform advocates.”

Want to make sure your voice is heard when the Senate tries to rein in Wall Street? Sign the petition. Call your senators. Tell a friend. We can’t let Wall Street’s sheer man power overtake this much-needed overhaul of the abusive financial sector.

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On Friday, May 14, Public Citizen published an open letter to Congress in CQ Today, an “insider” newspaper hand-delivered to every senator and representative. The letter calls for strong financial reform legislation and includes the names of well over 500 Public Citizen supporters who signed on by making a contribution to help us continue fighting corporate power. The letter was published as critical financial reform legislation is being hotly debated in the Senate.

You can still sign on! Although it’s too late to be listed in CQ Today, support Public Citizen today and we’ll add your name to the letter on our home page, where everyone who visits our website can see it.

See the letter as it appeared in CQ Today.

LEARN MORE and TAKE ACTION.

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Last night, Public Citizen participated in a panel discussion about the solutions to the crisis of money in politics following a sneak peak screening of Casino Jack and the United States of Money at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Panelists included Angela Canterbury of Public Citizen (above right), Heather Smith of Rock the Vote, Mark McKinnon of Change Congress and Ilyse Hogue of MoveOn.org. You can now watch a recording of the discussion on ustream.tv.

The documentary tells the story of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and teaches tough lessons about the “way Washington works” – an all-too-frequent euphemism for how corporate interests warp the political process to serve their agenda against the public interest.  

In the early 2000s, Abramoff siphoned money from lobbying clients into the political war chests of mostly conservative members of Congress. In particular, he cultivated a close (and lucrative) relationship with then-House Majority Leader Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas), who was indicted and forced to resign because of his association with the scandal.  

Abramoff subsequently was convicted of fraud and corrupting public officials. He is now serving a four-year prison sentence. But while Abramoff is out of business, film makes it clear that the corrupting incentives for lawmakers to exchange campaign donations for legislative favors are stronger than ever. (And the film’s Web site also has an interesting tool you can use to compare your members of Congress’ voting record to the interests of their biggest campaign donors.)

Among the solutions panelists discussed was a constitutional amendment to limit corporate influence in elections, as well as the Fair Elections Now Act and the recently proposed DISCLOSE and Shareholder Protection Acts.

Clearly, there is much to be done. But momentum is building to fight for the solutions. This film will help educate and engage activists and spark the necessary discussions that will help push the American people to repair our wounded democracy.

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Newly empowered by the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate executives are ready to spend unprecedented millions to influence upcoming elections.

If you or someone you know has a 401(k), a similar retirement account or other investments, the corporations funded by these investments could be part of the problem.

Don’t let families’ nest eggs become political weapons for the corporate agenda. If a majority of shareholders tell a corporation to stay out of politics, then the corporation should do exactly that.

Corporations aren’t people, but shareholders are. The Shareholder Protection Act (H.R. 4790) proposed by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) would empower shareholders to vote on whether or not to allow executives to spend corporate money on political campaigns. (more…)

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The Senate Banking Committee will take up legislation today sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to overhaul the nation’s financial regulations amidst record spending on lobbying fees and campaign contributions by the financial industry hoping to weaken or outright kill reform legislation, according to Americans for Financial Reform, Common Cause, Public Campaign and Public Citizen. Although the issue has been eclipsed by the high-profile health care reform effort, reform of financial regulations has drawn the same intense opposition from industry groups as health care.

Big banks and Wall Street financial firms, bailed out by taxpayers because of their own irresponsibility, have waged a fierce battle against the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency and other provisions that would increase transparency and oversight of the financial services industry. The failure of government regulators and the lack of accountability for different quarters of the financial sector are largely blamed for the meltdown on Wall Street that almost led to a second Great Depression.

Big banks and Wall Street financial firms have spent more than $500 million, or $1.4 million a day, since the beginning of last year in lobbying and campaign contributions, according to data from Center for Responsive Politics. Preventing stronger oversight and transparency in response to the financial crisis has been their number one legislative priority. (Learn more about banking industry lobbying against financial reform.) (more…)

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