Here are some highlights regarding the 1,300 page bank reform bill released by U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CN) yesterday.
Headlines blared that Senate Banking Chair Chris Dodd was done with dithering, and ready to move ahead with a financial reform package without Republican support. Financial reform groups should be celebrating this as a positive move that would roll back some of the worst elements of the bill inserted during recent bipartisan negotiations, including the nutty effort to put the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) into the Federal Reserve -- an institution about as popular as the IRS. Hold the champagne. Reading between the lines, it seems that negotiations are continuing behind the scenes and ranking Republican Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) says “an agreement is still very possible.” The little spat between Dodd and the Republicans has been beneficial, though, because it flushed out more details about the points of agreement and contention.
Today the Funny or Die crew took the fight for financial reform to a new level, tapping the talents of reality TV star Heidi Montag who delivers the message that "with hidden fees and standard interest rate increases, that $11,000 jaw line can end up costing $50,000 dollars!" Montag is famous for her multiple plastic surgeries featured recently on the cover of People magazin
Watching the devolution of the bank reform bill in the U.S. Senate has been painful. Banking Chairman Chris Dodd’s original proposal unveiled last year had numerous strengths, most significantly the removal of bank supervisory authority from the Federal Reserve. Dodd decided that the Fed had done such a lousy job ignoring the housing bubble and failing to crack down on predatory lending in the mortgage market that it shouldn’t be given a second chance.
But a second chance for this unpopular and failed institution is currently in the works. In an effort to please Republicans and achieve a bipartisan bill, Dodd is not only going to let the Fed keep its bank supervision and rulemaking authority, he wants to give it authority over the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).
The reckless behavior of big Wall Street banks, credit card companies, and mortgage lenders caused a financial crisis that cost us millions of lost homes and jobs, billions in tax-payer funded bailouts and trillions in lost college and retirement savings.
This week, the Senate will take up financial reform legislation that will set the shape of economy for the next 50 years. This is a critical time to call or email your Senator and tell them American families can no longer afford a "boom and bail" economy and it's past time that they cracked down on the abuses that caused the financial crisis.
From March 1-4, you can call the Senate toll free at 1-866-544-7573 between the hours of 9 a.m.-5 p.m. EST. The toll-free number, provided by our friends at Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will ask you to dial-in your zip code. You will automatically be connected to your Senators' office. Or you can go to BanksterUSA.org to email your Senator.
The steady stream of revelations regarding the role Goldman Sachs has played in the fleecing of Europe should reinvigorate efforts in Congress to rein in the reckless trading that could send the global economy into another tailspin.
To recap, Greece and a number of other European Union countries are dangerously in debt. EU rules say member countries cannot have budget deficits that exceed 3 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP). The Greek government recently revealed that its debt is closer to 12 percent of GDP. Other countries including Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are also in trouble. Like our behemoth banks, these countries are “too big to fail.” A default by any one of them would put an end to talks of “green shoots” and could lead to a double dip recession.
Today's New York Times features a pricey, full-page ad by JP Morgan Chase on a new charitable project. "We believe it's important to listen to our customers and communities. That's why we created Community Giving and let the Facebook community vote on which local charities will receive $5 million in grants from Chase," the ad proclaims.
Even before a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision blew the lid off corporate campaign spending, it was clear that the big banks would be key players in the 2010 election cycle. Unemployment will remain high, and so will resentment against the banks -- a volatile combination that will encourage savvy members of Congress to continue to fight for meaningful reform of the financial sector.
The New York Times' front page exposé on the role that Goldman Sachs has played in the Greek tragedy unfolding in Europe right now raises a huge number of concerns both for the U.S. economy and the financial reform measures now in Congress.
To recap, Greece and a number of other European Union (EU) countries are dangerously in debt. EU rules say member countries cannot have budget deficits that exceed three percent of GDP. Greece's debt is closer to 12 percent. Other countries including Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are also in trouble. These countries are "too big to fail." A default by any one of them would rock the global markets, putting an end to the hopeful signs of an EU recovery and potentially leading to a "double dip" recession here in the United States.
Greece and perhaps the other EU nations have been hiding the extent of the debt for years. This week, it was revealed that they have been able to do this with the aid of major U.S. players like Goldman Sachs. The German magazine Der Spiegel broke the story that Greece did a billion-dollar currency swap with Goldman Sachs in 2002 that did not show up on the nation's books as debt.