Economy

A Tax Day Protest We Can All Get Behind

If you, like me, are scrambling to complete your taxes, and feeling a bit disgruntled about being taxed more than the big boys on Wall Street, Jobs with Justice has a great plan on how to work out your angst.

Jobs with Justice, the feisty union representing workers in 25 states, is calling for a Tax Wall Street Day of Action on April 15th.

”Big banks helped plunge the nation into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. They lobbied for deregulation and corporate tax breaks, then went on a reckless gambling spree, creating complicated, risky mechanisms to make profits off of destabilizing the economy. They have tightened lending for consumers and small business, and they have refused to modify home mortgages. Millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their retirement savings,” says a Jobs with Justice flyer.

Are Taxpayers Making Money Off Bailed Out Banks?

Almost every day, I read in the paper that the goverment is making money off of the bank bailout. Papers love good news, even if it is has little to do with reality. Today, the Financial Times reported that the U.S. made $10 billion off bank repayments on the bailout funds. $10 billion, hooray! We are in the black!

Unfortunately, our recent comprehensive bailout accounting puts taxpayers $2 trillion in the red. That is right, $2 trillion. While most of this money was in the form of loans, and American taxpayers might recoup those funds one day, it is foolish for the press to declare "Mission Accomplished" based on a thin study by the SNL Group. (Saturday Night Live strikes again?) Especially when taxpayers also lost $14 trillion in wages, retirement, college savings and housing wealth.

Watching Bill Moyers

After an exhausting week, I was sticking to my usual routine of collapsing on the couch and tuning in to Bill Moyers Journal on PBS last Friday night. I was excited that one of the guests was www.eji.org Bryan Stevenson, the head of the Equal Justice Initiative, who has long been a hero of mine for his uncompromising, long-term battle against the death penalty.

The show was terrific, a wide-ranging discussion about the struggle for economic justice from Martin Luther King to Barack Obama for "those folks at the bottom of the well," with Stevenson and civil rights lawyer and author of "The New Jim Crow," Michelle Alexander. But deep into the show, well, to tell the shameful truth, I fell asleep. So I missed Moyer's great concluding essay and the big moment when he mentioned the Center for Media and Democracy and our Wall Street Bailout tally. The tally was the product of three months of hard work by our researcher, Conor Kenney, with contributions from half a dozen other staff.

CMD Releases Bailout Tally, $4.6 Trillion in Federal Funds Disbursed

Today, the Real Economy Project of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released an assessment of the total cost to taxpayers of the Wall Street bailout. CMD concludes that multiple federal agencies have disbursed $4.6 trillion dollars in supporting the financial sector since the meltdown in 2007-2008. Of that, $2 trillion is still outstanding. Our tally shows that the Federal Reserve is the real source of the bailout funds.

CMD’s assessment demonstrates that while the press has focused its attention on the $700 billion TARP bill passed by Congress, the Federal Reserve has provided by far the bulk of the funding for the bailout in the form of loans amounting to $3.8 trillion. Little information has been disclosed about what collateral taxpayers have received in return for these loans, sparking the Bloomberg News lawsuit covered earlier. CMD also concludes that the bailout is far from over, as the government has active programs authorized to cost up to $2.9 trillion and still has $2 trillion in outstanding investments and loans.

Prosecuting Financial Crimes: Will Anyone Bunk with Bernie?

James O'Keefe on Fox NewsDick Fuld of Lehman Bernie Madoff is lonely.

Eighteen months after the collapse of the financial system, not one Wall Street Titan has joined the Ponzi King in the federal pen.

For a moment there, he thought maybe Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo might join him, but alas the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decided to give him the slap. Then those Bear Stearns guys were taken to court over those crazy emails that indicated they knew that the funds they were peddling were chock full of toxic swill, but the Feds screwed that one up too. Then Bank of America’s Ken Lewis came under fire from the New York Attorney General (AG) for not telling his shareholders the truth about that merger with Merrill Lynch. Since the AG has launched a civil and not a criminal case, Lewis too may face the slap. Now a bankruptcy examiner has revealed that Dick Fuld and team were busily cooking the books over at Lehman Brothers before its collapse, but the FBI apparently didn’t read these news stories. It can’t be stirred enough to even issue subpoenas.

Dodd Move Blocks Progressive Reforms

With over 400 amendments readied for the committee debate on Senator Chris Dodd’s financial reform package, Banking Chairman Dodd decided to ditch the democratic process and vote his own version of the bill out of committee. This moves the real debate to the Senate floor and worsens progressive’s chance of improving the bill.

On Friday, Senators had readied their amendments, which included dozens of Republican amendments that were clearly intended to draw out the debate and delay final action. After tweaking the bill over the weekend, Dodd moved for an up or down vote on his draft in committee. It passed on a strict party line vote of 13-10. After a year of discussion, the committee “debate” and mark up took only 21 minutes.

America's Women to Dodd: Size Matters

To: U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
Chairman Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

Dear Senator Dodd,

As women and as taxpayers, we are writing to you today to tell you that size matters.

Usually we love big. Big boxes of chocolate, big boxes of wine, big — well you know. But when it comes to big banks and big bank bailouts, it’s a whole different story.

As you get ready to take up bank reform in your committee next week, we need to talk.

U.S. Chamber Plans $3M Ad Blitz Vs. Dodd Bill

Congress Daily reported today that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it would spend at least $3 million in a multi-state TV ad buy opposing Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd's (D-CN) bill to revamp the financial regulatory system.

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