Posts Tagged ‘financial reform’

Just two years after the Wall Street banks were bailed out and just three months after we passed a tough new law to rein them in, the Wall Street bankers want weak regulations so they can keep making risky bets with your money.

Because of the upcoming election, the banks apparently thought nobody would notice that they redeployed their horde of lobbyists to try to weaken the new rules as they’re being written.

They were wrong. We noticed. And we need your help to fight back.

Regulators with the Financial Stability Oversight Counsil are accepting public comments on the new law’s important “Volcker rule.” The rule is named for Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a vocal White House official who called on Congress to stop banks from making risky bets for their own profit while relying on taxpayer bailouts if the bets go bad.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Follow this link, and you’ll get to the page where you can submit a comment about the Volcker rule.

2. Next, cut and paste the SAMPLE COMMENT at the end of this post into the comment box. Fill out all the required information (First Name, Last Name, and Organization Name).

3. In the required field that asks for your “Organization Name” write “PUBLIC CITIZEN MEMBER.”

4. Click “Submit.”

The banks have already submitted their regulatory comments. Now it’s our turn! (more…)


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Today’s buzz speculates that Obama will name Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser, a czar of sorts, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Until the Commander in Chief announces for sure what Warren’s role will be in the new agency, this music video about the “new sheriff” in town should entertain you plenty. Check it out!

Learn more while you’re at it.

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A tweet last night from the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel has raised expectations that President Obama will soon nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  Betty Cracker at Rumproast says if the rumor is true, she’s looking forward to the confirmation fight:

I’d love to see the brilliant, no-nonsense Ms. Warren on teevee analyzing the big shitpile and spelling out exactly how the GOP and its enablers stacked the deck in favor of their sugar daddies at the expense of the middle class.

While Public Citizen has been pushing for Warren to get the job because of her tough, bulldog  approach to Wall Street abuses, Liberaland’s Yashwanth Manjunath says if Obama really wants Warren for the job, he’d just bypass Congress and make her a recess appointment. He doesn’t see it happening, though, because neither the Democrats nor Republicans are all that interested in really reforming the financial markets.

This issue has nothing to do with “liberals” and “conservatives”; it has to do with power, and who really has it in Washington. Elizabeth Warren has no shot of being confirmed by this Congress because, as Dick Durbin once admitted, “the banks own the place.”

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More than a year and a half after Wall Street crashed the global economy, Congress has finally taken important action to rein in the Wall Street titans. The Wall Street reform bill is a crucial first step, passed despite the financial sector’s enormous investments in lobbying and campaign contributions. But Wall Street remains far too powerful in Washington, with the result that this bill does not contain crucial reforms that must be included in subsequent reform efforts.

On the positive side of the ledger, the bill contains stronger consumer financial protections and curbs on some of the worst practices in the derivatives markets. (more…)

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The U.S. House of Representatives brought us one step closer to meaningful financial reform Wednesday when it voted (mostly on party lines, with only three Republicans supporting the bill) to pass the  conference report on the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, called it “a significant, initial victory for Main Street over Wall Street.” While there is still much more to do to rein in Wall Street’s reckless behavior, the financial reform bill offers a couple significant steps forward, Arkush said:

The two most notable are substantially stronger consumer financial protections and curbs on some of the worst practices in the derivatives markets.

The Senate is expected to vote on the conference report after the holiday break.  Chris Bowers at Open Left offers an in-depth analysis:

If the bill is defeated by pro-Wall Street forces over the next two weeks, the only parts which will be defeated are the victories, while all of its shortcomings will remain in place. If it is defeated, the 1999 financial deregulation package will remain the basic framework under which our financial system operates, and we all know how that worked out.

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In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of the Wall Street reform bill, “This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.”

Wall Street, an ant? You mean the bankers who have been spending more than a million dollars a day on lobbyists to kill the bill? You mean the gargantuan institutions whose reckless, predatory actions caused the near-collapse of the financial system and plunged us into the Great Recession? Sorry, I’m really not seeing anything ant-like here.

And then he says the reform bill is like a nuclear weapon. I guess he’s trying to say it’s too strong. Yeah, there are some good, strong regulations in the bill, like the consumer financial protection bureau and increased transparency in the derivatives market. (more…)

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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.


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The Senate resumes debate today on the Wall Street reform bill, having late last Thursday rejected probably the most important measure proposed to reduce Wall Street power, strengthen financial stability and fortify our democracy: breaking up the banks.

By a 33-61 vote, the Senate defeated the Brown-Kaufman amendment, which would have forced the largest banks to get smaller. Three Republicans, including Richard Shelby, the ranking member of the Banking Committee, joined 30 Democrats in supporting the measure.

This was a very big deal loss. But things aren’t over by any means. (more…)

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