October 14th, the Obama administration's principal piece of financial service reform legislation, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, will be up for committee consideration in the House Financial Services Committee. The most important thing to know about the bill? It creates a new federal agency in Washington whose sole purpose is to protect consumers from the deceptive tricks and traps of the financial services industry. The most important thing to know about the committee reviewing the bill? It's on FIRE.
Joe Nocera of The New York Times asks "Have Banks No Shame?" in response to their opposition to new consumer protections proposed in the wake of the biggest bank bailout in history. In the piece, Nocera reports that Simon Baker, a former International Monetary Fund economist, calls the banks' opposition "unconscionable," stating:
“They can’t pay what they owe!” he began angrily. Then he paused, collected his thoughts and started over: “Tim Geithner saved them on terms extremely favorable to the banks. They should support all of his proposed reforms.”
Rarely does the U.S. government crack down on itself for misleading the public, but in a refreshing turn of events -- that is just what happened this week in Washington, D.C.
Likening the actions of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to those of Oscar Wilde's famous cynic "who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," New York Federal Judge Jed Rakoff tossed an SEC settlement with Bank of America (BofA) out of court yesterday and ordered the parties to ready for trial.
To "move the spotlight off the unpopular commercial banks and mortgage lenders that are the target of the legislation," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is claiming that the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency will hurt butchers. "The economy has made it tough on this local butcher's customers," reads the Chamber's latest ad.
Saturday, August 29 I had the good fortune to speak at a community rally for health care reform in a city park in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was a broad-based and diverse group with many signs and placards supporting the 'public option' being debated by Congress, and others calling for 'single payer' reform like that working effectively in other countries such as Canada. Here is what I said:
I would like to begin by apologizing to all of you for the role I played 15 years ago in cheating you out of a reformed health care system. Had it not been for greedy insurance companies and other special interests, and their army of lobbyists and spin-doctors like I used to be, we wouldn't be here today.
I'm ashamed that I let myself get caught up in deceitful and dishonest PR campaigns that worked so well, hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died, and millions of others have lost their homes and been forced into bankruptcy, so that a very few corporate executives and their Wall Street masters could become obscenely rich.
I am very pleased to announce that Mary Bottari is joining the Center for Media and Democracy. She is the Director of a new project we are calling the "Real Economy Project." (You know, the "real" economy, as opposed to the faux Wall Street-driven economy?)
For those of you who don’t know Mary, she really is a powerhouse — she’s an exceptional public interest advocate with tremendous communications and campaigning experience. For the last ten years, she has served as a senior analyst for the Washington, D.C.,-based consumer group Public Citizen.
She started in its Global Trade Watch division in the months before the World Trade Organization’s Seattle Ministerial meeting. Mary was deeply involved in planning for Seattle, and she ran the NGO press center to help communicate the disillusionment of labor, farm, and environmental groups with the corporate trade agenda.