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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Today’s Flickr photo

Flickr photo by philroeder

If you read one thing today . . .

Markos Moulitsas on the Daily Kos highlights some interesting exit polling from the midterm elections. More voters blamed Wall Street for our economic woes than either Barack Obama or George W. Bush. But among those who blamed Bush, 83 percent were Democrats and among those who blamed Obama, 91 percent were Republicans. No surprise there. What is puzzling, as Markos points out is that even though a lot of Republicans blamed Wall Street, it didn’t stop them from voting for GOP candidates who, by and large, push a pro-Wall Street agenda.

So why is that? It’s because people think there is no difference between the parties when it comes to the rich and powerful. And why should they? Obama’s finance team is essentially a branch office of Goldman Sachs and company. Treasury was more concerned with using HAMP as a way to protect the banks than help struggling homeowners stay in their homes. In a bizarre role reversal — the White House economic team tried to water down the finance reform bill that came out of Congress.

It’s not hard to see why people have gotten the sense that Democrats aren’t much better on Wall Street matters than Republicans (even if they are).

Overheard:

This whole new Wisconsin paradigm will take some getting used to. Red state? Wisconsin? Anyways, this once progressive bastion is now filled with legislators who want to tell the federal government where it can stick its socialized health care. Kevin Sack in the New York Times says the opposition to health care reform helped fuel the GOP rise in Wisconsin, as well as other states. Wisconsin’s Gov.-elect Scott Walker says that on his first day in office, he’ll tell the state’ s attorney general to join a multi-state suit challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s health care reform.

“I think the more free-market the better,” Mr. Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, said in an interview. “I think history has repeatedly shown the more the government gets involved the more it not only distorts the marketplace but the more likely it is to inflate costs.”

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The trailer for the new Charles Ferguson documentary, Inside Job, looks great. The movie, which is narrated by Matt Damon, looks at the causes behind the 2008 economic meltdown, i.e. the financial deregulation that began with Reagan, the insatiable greed on Wall Street and the complicity of federal regulators who turned a blind eye to Wall Street’s reckless behavior. The movie had a limited opening this past weekend.

The documentary, which a group of critics voted the best film at the 2010 Cannes film festival, was also praised by Roger Ebert, who called it a “devastating” indictment of Wall Street:

It is a very angry, very carefully argued, brutally clear documentary about how the American financial industry set out deliberately to defraud the ordinary American investor. It was directed by Charles Ferguson (below), whose academic, business and government backgrounds make him unusually well-qualified for this subject. The remorseless narration is by Matt Damon.

Here is the argument of the film, in four sentences. From Roosevelt until Reagan, the American economy enjoyed 40 years of stability, prosperity and growth. Beginning with Reagan’s moves against financial regulation, that sound base has been progressively eroded. The crucial federal error (in administrations of both parties) was to allow financial institutions to trade on their own behalf. Today many large trading banks are betting against their own customers.

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When consumers make investments, we don’t get government-backed guarantees. Goldman Sachs shouldn’t either.

Readers, you can help us stop Goldman and other Wall Street banks from getting government support for their risky trades.

The Merkley-Levin amendment – cosponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) – to the Wall Street reform bill would stop government-backed banks from engaging in risky trading. It would also stop big banks from making Goldman-Sachs-style bets against their own clients.

Here’s how you can help. We’ve set up a public “whip chart” where you can see where your senators stand on this issue. We’re asking you to make a quick call to your senators’ offices to find out whether they support, oppose or are undecided on the Merkley-Levin amendment (there’s a short script on this page). After you make the call, you can use the page to report your senators’ postions.  (more…)

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As the Senate banking committee prepares to consider financial protection reform legislation, Public Citizen and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) call on Congress to protect the military from predatory auto dealer financing — an enormous problem for troops and civilian consumers alike.

Sen. Christopher Dodd’s (D-Conn.) Wall Street reform measure only partly closes the auto dealer loophole opened by the version that the House of Representatives passed Dec. 12, 2009. The groups urge lawmakers to close the loophole. In the current draft of the Senate bill, the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) would have authority to write rules on non-bank lending, including payday loans and loans originated by auto dealers, but would have limited authority to enforce the rules.

“Rules have little value if they are not enforced,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The bill should be strengthened to ensure that the CFPB has full enforcement authority. The financial industry has run roughshod over consumers and investors for too long. This is the time to stop it.” (more…)

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Last Friday, David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, went on CNBC to take on the corporate lobby’s spin about the effects of a tax on Wall Street’s speculative activities.

The European Union is moving forward with measures to curb the kind of risky, reckless financial speculation that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Much to the dismay of Wall Street fat cats eager to maintain an unsustainable status quo, similar measures have also been proposed in the U.S.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to scare the public away from measures restoring any kind of accountability to the big banks and financial speculators.   (more…)

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Recently, a financial industry lobbyist said because Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) is retiring, he is now free to “dance with the special interests that brought him to the dance in the first place. Us, his loyal donors in the banking community.”

Nearly 46,000 concerned Americans joined Public Citizen and our partners in saying, “No way!” Dodd is now free to do the right thing and hold the banksters accountable.

Americans for Financial Reform, Credo, Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Media and Democracy helped collect signatures. Together, we urged Dodd to keep up the fight for significant financial reform to rein in Wall Street and prevent another economic crisis. In particular, we called on Dodd to ensure there is a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

(more…)

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Last year, Wall Street spent $29.8 million on lobbying to undermine financial reform — a jump in spending of 12 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Next week, Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is expected to introduce legislation that is the result of months of bipartisan negotiation.

But will it be the real reform the people are demanding, or will it be the weak half-measure the banks are lobbying for?

Add your name to our petition urging Senator Dodd to fight for real reform!  

At a recent hearing, Dodd said, “Too many people in the [financial] industry have decided to invest in an army of lobbyists, whose only mission is to kill the commonsense financial reforms that we are working so hard up here to try to achieve.”

Tell Dodd to keep standing up to the big bank lobbyists! We need financial policies that put the American people before Wall Street’s profits.

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As you may already know, we’ve been working to make sure Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) stands up for the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency and serious financial reform. There have been rumors he might cave in to the corporate special interests on that — but his in his statement on Citizens United v. FEC, it sounds like he just might be ready to take the gloves off and fight for consumers:

From the Courant‘s Capitol Watch blog (emphasis added):

“What a terrible day for American democracy,” U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd said in a statement. “With this 5-4 decision, a deeply divided Supreme Court has essentially given corporations free rein to drown out the voices of the American people, rejecting the sacred democratic principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ By overturning the century-old cornerstone of our campaign finance laws, they have opened the floodgates of direct corporate spending, allowing our political discourse and the legislative process to be further corrupted by huge corporations.  I intend to pursue every legislative option – including a constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to put appropriate limits on campaign spending – to restore the trust and voice of the American people.” (more…)

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Sen. Dodd (D-Conn.)

Recently, a financial industry lobbyist said because Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) is retiring, he is now free to “dance with the special interests that brought him to the dance in the first place. Us, his loyal donors in the banking community” (from Politico).

In fact, Dodd is now free to do the right thing and hold the banksters accountable. Because he’s not running for re-election, he’s no longer beholden to big banks for campaign contributions. It’s not too late for Sen. Dodd to make protecting Main Street — not dancing with Wall Street — his legacy.

We’ve set up two petitions you can use to tell Dodd to stand up for us, the people who are struggling through the Great Recession. One is here on our Web site. (more…)

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Last month, Public Citizen activists rallied in New York City, Austin and more than a dozen locales across the nation following the financial reform victory in the U.S. House. We joined our Americans for Financial Reform coalition partners in demanding Wall Street and big bank executives use their $150 billion compensation and bonus pool to help struggling families recover from the economic crisis.

The House win was a step in the right direction, but were still a long, long way away from getting accountability on Wall Street. Stay tuned for more actions as financial reform moves forward in the Senate. We need the American people to help us remind their public servants that real prosperity requires financial stability and an end to predatory banking practices.

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