Meet the Democrats’ ‘Dirty Dozen’ Working to Gut Financial Reforms

Yves here. As depressing and predictable as it is to see Democrats yet again prostituting themselves to financiers, payback may finally be coming.  From Lambert in  Water Cooler yesterday:

Senate: Poll: Five Senate Dems would lose to GOP challenger if elections held today” [The Hill]. “New polls published Thursday morning in Axios show Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) would all lose reelection to GOP challengers if voters were heading to the polls this week.” Blue Dogs all. Why vote for a fake Republican when you can vote for a real one?

So these Blue Dogs who are gutting the already underwhelming Dodd Frank may not be with us much longer, at least politically.  And even though the party is remarkably insistent on adhering to a strategy of corporate toadying that has led it to hemorrhage seats at all levels of government, if these seats all go red, it might be a message even the Democrats might not be able to ignore.

By Marshall Auerback is a market analyst and commentator. Originally published at Alternet

This act of regulatory vandalism highlights everything that is corrupt about our political system.

As if to maximize the possibility of another major financial crisis, the Trump administration and the GOP have recently been busy undercutting the limited safeguards established a decade ago via Dodd-Frank. The latest example of this stealth attack on Wall Street reform is the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, appropriately sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Appropriate, because this is literally a “crapo” bill. It provides a few “technical tweaks” to Dodd-Frank in the same way in which protection payouts to organized crime provide businesses with “insurance” against property damage. In reality, it is an act of regulatory vandalism, which highlights everything that is corrupt about our political system.

We have grown to expect no less from the GOP, whose sole raison d’etre these days seems to be filling the trough from which America’s fat cats can perpetually gorge themselves. What is truly disturbing, however, is that the Republican effort is being given bipartisan cover by more than a dozen Democratic senators: Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both from Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Tom Carper of Delaware. To this esteemed group, we should also add Senator Angus King (ME), an Independent who regularly caucuses with the Democrats. So, in reality, it’s a filibuster-proof “Baker’s Dirty Dozen.” Digging into the details, perhaps this is what Senator Mitch McConnell had in mind when he predicted more bipartisanship in Congress this year. In co-sponsoring this bill, the 13 senators are providing cover for the GOP when the inevitable fallout comes, dissipating the Democrats’ political capital with the electorate in the process.

Yes, we get it: some of these senator incumbents are in red states that voted heavily for Donald Trump in the last election. And the latest polls suggest many are vulnerable in this year’s elections. But the last time we checked, there didn’t seem to be an overwhelming wave of populist protest demanding regulatory relief for banks. All 50 states—red and blue—suffered from the last financial crisis, and it’s hard to believe voters in Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana or Missouri would be more likely to support Senators Tester, Manchin, Heitkamp, Donnelly or McCaskill because they backed a bank deregulation bill (which in reality goes well beyond helping small community banks). Nor do the 2018 races factor as far as Senators Warner, Coons, or Bennet are concerned, given that none are up for re-election this year.

No, the more likely answer is money, plain and simple. The numbers aren’t in for 2017, but an analysis of the Federal Election Commission data from the 2016 election appears to explain what is driving this newfound solicitousness toward the banks. The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) points out that “nine of the twelve Democrats supporting the deregulatory measure count the financial industry as either their biggest or second-biggest donor.” (At least now we have a better understanding as to why Hillary Clinton’s “responsibility gene” induced her to select running mate Tim Kaine, who received “large contributions from Big Law partners that represent Wall Street,” as opposed to a genuine finance reformer, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren is vigorously opposing the new bill.)

We also know (courtesy of the CRP) that Mark Warner’s last campaign in 2014:

“included among his 20 largest donors the mega Wall Street banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. Goldman’s employees and PACs gave Warner’s campaign $71,600 while JPMorgan Chase gave the Warner campaign committees $50,566… Senator Heidi Heitkamp is also up for reelection this year and her number one contributor at present is employees and/or PACs of Goldman Sachs which have contributed $79,500 thus far.”

Naturally, all of the senators claim their motives are pure. With no hint of irony, a spokesman for Tim Kaine suggested that, “Campaign contributions do not influence Senator Kaine’s policy positions.” Likewise, an aide for Mark Warner vigorously contested the idea that campaign donations from Wall Street ever influenced the Virginia senator’s decision-making on policy matters. Sure, and it was shocking to find out that gambling took place in Rick’s Café.

It is true, as Senator Jon Tester (another co-sponsor) notes, that the proposed changes introduced in the Crapo bill (notably the increase in the asset size from $50 billion to $250 billion of those banks that are considered “systemically important” and therefore subject to greater oversight and tighter rules) do not affect the likes of Wall Street banks such as Citigroup, JP MorganChase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, all of which are still covered by the most stringent oversight provisions of Dodd-Frank. But the increased asset threshold does exempt the U.S. bank holding companies of systemically significant foreign banks: Deutsche Bank, UBS and Credit Suisse, all of whom were implicated in multiple violations of both American and international banking laws in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis.

Deutsche Bank alone has paid billions of dollars for its role in perpetuating mortgage fraud, money-laundering and interest rate manipulation (the LIBOR scandal), which ideally should invite more regulatory scrutiny, not less. Instead, a new law ostensibly crafted to provide a few “technical fixes” for Dodd-Frank is now reducing the regulatory oversight of a bank that has been cited in an IMF report as one of Germany’s “global systemically important financial institutions.” Translating the couched-IMF-speak, the report suggests that Deutsche Bank on its own has the potential to set off a new global contagion, given the scale of its derivatives exposure. Not only too big to fail, but evidently too big to regulate properly either, aided and abetted by members of a party who claim to be appalled at the level of corruption in the Trump administration.

Another side-effect of raising the regulatory threshold to $250 billion in assets is that it diminishes the chance of obtaining an early warning detection signal from somewhat smaller financial institutions. As the experience of Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns illustrated, smaller problems that remain hidden in the shadows can ultimately metastasize if left alone, and become much bigger—and more systemically dangerous—later.

So when Senator Kaine nobly suggests that he is merely providing relief for “small community banks and credit unions” in his home state, or Jon Tester argues that he is only helping local banks suffering from Dodd-Frank’s regulatory overkill, both are being extraordinarily disingenuous. The reality is that increasing the oversight threshold by 500 percent does not just help a few “small community banks and credit unions” crawl out from a thicket of onerous and costly regulation. Even former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who favored some regulatory relief for community banks, felt that $250 billion threshold was excessively lax.

In fact, (per the Americans for Financial Reform), the increase “removes the most severe mandate for 25 of the 38 largest banks,” which together “account for over $3.5 trillion in banking assets, more than one-sixth of the U.S. total.” Additionally, as Pat Garofalo writes: “The bill also includes an exemption from capital standards—essentially the amount of money that banks need to have on hand in case things go south—that benefits some big financial firms, and even more are lobbying to be included.” In other words, this isn’t just George Bailey’s friendly neighborhood bank that is getting some regulatory relief here.

All of this newfound regulatory laxity comes at a time when many of the largest Wall Street banks have again resurrected the same practices that almost destroyed them a decade ago. Bank credit analyst Chris Whalen observes: “The leader of this effort is none other than Citigroup (NYSE:C), which has surpassed JP MorganChase (NYSE:JPM) to become the largest derivatives shop in the world. Citi has embraced the most notorious product of the roaring 2000s, the synthetic collateralized debt obligation or ‘CDO’ security, a product that fraudulently leverages the real world and literally caused the bank to fail a decade ago.”

Another example: Trump and his henchman, Mick Mulvaney, have also joined the big banks in attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which by virtue of the Crapo act, will be blocked “from collecting key data showing when and where families of color are being overcharged for home loans or steered into predatory products.”

Let’s be honest here: even in its original form, Dodd-Frank was the bare minimum the government could have done in the wake of the 2008 disaster. But lobbyists, paid-for politicians and co-opted bank-friendly regulators have been busy “applying technical fixes” to the bill virtually from the moment it was passed a decade ago. The upshot is that the much-trumpeted Wall Street reform is a joke when compared to the comprehensive legislation passed in the aftermath of the Great Depression (which set the stage for decades of relative financial stability). Under Dodd, the banks are purportedly subject to “meaningful stress tests” (in the words of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell), but the tests are neither particularly stressful, nor do they adequately reflect today’s twin dangers of off-balance sheet leverage and the concentration of big banks’ on-balance sheet assets in relatively low-return loans.

What should have been done after the global financial crisis? Professors Eric Tymoigne and Randall Wray proposed the following:

“Any of the ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions that needed funding should have been required to submit to Fed oversight. Top management should have been required to proffer resignations as a condition of lending (with the Fed or Treasury holding the letters until they could decide which should be accepted—this is how Jessie Jones resolved the bank crisis in the 1930s). Short-term lending against the best collateral should have been provided, at penalty rates. A comprehensive ‘cease and desist’ order should have been enforced to stop all trading, all lending, all asset sales, and all bonus payments until an assessment of bank solvency could have been completed. The FDIC should have been called-in (in the case of institutions with insured deposits), but in any case, the critically undercapitalized institutions should have been dissolved according to existing law: at the least cost to the Treasury and to avoid increasing concentration in the financial sector.”

A number of conclusions can be drawn from this whole sordid episode. An obvious one is that our model of campaign finance is completely broken. While it is encouraging to see some Democratic politicians increasingly adopting the Sanders model of fundraising, swearing off large corporate donations, not enough are doing so. Democrats are united in their concern pertaining to foreign threats that pose risks to the integrity of U.S. elections, but the vigorous opposition to Vladimir Putin and the Russians isn’t extended to the domestic oligarchs destroying American democracy (and the economy) from within.

The whole history behind Senator Crapo’s bill shows how quickly bank lobbyists can routinely exploit their financial muscle to turn a seemingly innocuous bill into something which pokes yet more holes into the Swiss Cheese-like rules already in place for Dodd. The Baker’s Dirty Dozen have accepted donations from Wall Street that not only constrain their ability to implement genuine reforms in finance (and other areas) but also discourage the mobilization of voters, who see this legislative horror show, and consequently opt out of showing up to vote at elections because they know that the system is rigged and dominated by corporate cash (making their votes irrelevant).

Ironically, no less a figure than Donald Trump exploited that voter cynicism in 2016. In striking contrast to every other Republican presidential nominee since 1936, he attacked globalization, free trade, international financiers, and Wall Street (and made effective mockery of Hillary Clinton’s ties to Goldman Sachs) and thereby mobilized blue-collar voters in marginal Rust Belt states, giving him his path to the presidency. Of course, we now know that this was all bait-and-switch politics, likely facilitated by forces outside the U.S., along with large corporation donations from domestic elites. We’ve probably reached the endgame as far as this “investment approach to politics” as it disintegrates into a cesspool of corruption and further financial fragility. It may take another crash before this problem is truly fixed.

In the meantime, this bipartisan subversion of Wall Street reform not only risks making the next crisis at least as bad as 2008, but also reinforces the notion that both parties are equally corrupt, catalyzing the collapse of the American political order. In a further sick twist of fate, the twin corrosive forces of “golden rule politics” (i.e., he who has the gold rules) and a rapidly deflating “bubble-ized” economy could all come to a head under the watch of Donald the Unready. But he won’t own this disaster alone, thanks to the help of compromised Wall Street Democrats.

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  1. cnchal

    . . . and thereby mobilized blue-collar voters in marginal Rust Belt states . . .

    One word can self destroy what is a good call out of corruption. That’s a big bus rolling over a lot of people.

    1. PDB

      I think he means that the margins of victory are very small, not that the states are of marginal importance.

    2. Detroit Dan

      I think he meant “marginal” in the sense of not firmly in the grasp of either Republicans or Democrats, but on the margin (boundary).

  2. jackiebass

    It is a relatively long time until the election. Voters over time aren’t very predictable. They often change on a whim and very quickly. It wasn’t that long ago that predictions had democrats in control as far as the eye could see. As long as the democrat party is controlled by fake democrats the democrat party will continue to lose elections because this branch of the party doesn’t appeal to traditional democrats. They won’t bother to come out and vote for candidates they believe don’t represent their views. This works to help republicans win elections.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      That may be, but bitter berners should all come out and vote Republican in these Blue Dogs’s elections just to make sure.

  3. Jen

    Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan from my deep purple state of NH both, voted to allow the bill to proceed. And of course my esteemed congress critter, Annie Kuster, did her bit in congress. Only 968 days until I can exact my retribution on Shaheen at the polls, first and foremost for her vote in favor of fast track, but damned if she doesn’t give me another good reason on almost a daily basis.

    1. Scott

      This gets to the bigger question: what other Democrats are supporting this bill behind the scenes? We have multiple examples of Democrats publicly opposing something while whipping votes in favor of it (Pelosi with the trade authority pops to mind). Do Shaheen and Hassan support or oppose these deregulation attempts? Does Chuck Schumer?

      1. Michael C.

        Or, if the bill already has enough votes, the other Democrats who inherently support the bill vote “no” to cover themselves. This, of course, is a tactic often used to run cover for right-wing, leaning Dems, particularly if they are vulnerable in their district and cannot afford to alienate voters.

    2. Darius

      Another favorite Democrat subterfuge. The motion to proceed usually requires 60 votes and limits debate to 30 hours. The ultimate vote requires a majority of those present. If they really oppose the bill, senators will vote against the motion to proceed. They count on voters’ ignorance to get away with it. Anyone, cough, Ben Cardin on Fast Track, cough, making that argument is lying scum. Their defense is Trump! Trump! Trump! Russia! Russia! Russia! In these cases, vote for the third party sacrifice. Better yet, primaries. Even if they’re kamikaze runs.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Considering how few people will vote third party, is voting third party enough to guarantee defeating these Blue Dogs? Perhaps the bullet of voting Republican should be bitten for as long as it takes to either disinfect the Democratic Party or exterminate it from political existence to clear the space it obstructs for the rise of a legitimate Second Party.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Short-term lending against the best collateral should have been provided, at penalty rates.

    A lovely sentiment indeed, but this desideratum ended in the fifth year of Model T production when the bank cartel Federal Reserve began its reign of error.

    Its modus operandi is to invert the natural order, in which last resort lending is offered at a penalty rate to the solvent but illiquid.

    No more. In the unpleasantness of 2008, overnight rates promptly clanged down to zero. When that proved insufficient, $700 billion of free money pickpocketed from taxpayers was handed out indiscriminately to the solvent and the zombified alike, as we are all equal. /sarc

    Meanwhile Sen Rand Paul, even with an R party majority in the Senate, faces an uphill battle to get his Audit the Beast Fed bill voted on. After 105 years of entrenched deception, the bank cartel considers itself invincible. And when it comes to the golden rule, absent an audit, it’s not even clear that they’ve got any.

    1. Off The Street

      Auditing the Fed and the Defense Department would provide some transparency or at least a shock about government operations. Voters need to but may not want to see the results of the sausage-making.

  5. tempestteacup

    It’s an unfortunate irony of the times in which we live that politicians are happy to bask in the glory of Law & Order when it comes to intensifying punishments for the general public yet simultaneously nowhere to be found when it comes to prosecuting those who commit crimes involving corruption, fraud or abuse of power. When ratcheting up the incarceration rate among minorities, the poor and those living in the nation’s crumbling urban ghettos, they dutifully repeat the same weary, disproved bromides about deterrence while stuffing their campaign coffers with contributions from one of neoliberalism’s most amoral sectors: the for-profit carceral state.

    Generally, then, I would reject such arguments – higher sentences, mandatory minimums, decreasing the independence of the judiciary to decide on punishments are all failed policies that have, under the aegis of the War on Drugs, left a trail of destruction, generational poverty, and heartbreak. When it comes to white-collar crimes, political corruption and abuse of power, though, I suspect that hefty sentences actually would serve as a deterrent. If the architects of the Global Financial Crisis were currently sitting alongside Bernie Madoff in Butner (or ADX Florence), you suspect it might cause some of their successors to think twice about indulging in the same wanton speculation. If the ghouls of the DoD, Pentagon and intelligence community had found themselves where they belonged, in the dock, for their gross abuses of power and war crimes following 9/11, one wonders whether the near-equal ghouls of the Sainted Obama’s Administration would have drawn up their illegal kill lists or celebrated the flouting of international law with quite such levity.

    All of which, of course, means that we won’t ever see it happen – but it does make me think that in some cases it is entirely justified to pursue and forcefully punish those who break the law. It’s just unfortunate that the ones whose punishment would be most effective in deterring others are the ones who invariably get off scott free.

    1. seabos84

      If I hit 1 of those huge lotteries, I’d kick $50 million towards having a constitutional amendment – The Tens. Trial in 10 weeks. No more than 10 days split for / against. 10 year sentences, NO parole, NO assets on release. If you screw >1,000,000 out of a penny, 0r 100,000 out of a dime, or 10,000 out of a buck, or 1,000 out of 10 bucks, or 100 out of 100 bucks, or 10 out of 1000, or 1 out of 10 grand … goodbye MFKR!

      1. Michael C.

        Here’s a comprehensive constitutional amendment we should all support from the organization Move-to-Amend that will do the trick:

        House Joint Resolution 48 introduced January 30, 2017

        Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

        The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

        Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

        The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

        Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

        Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

        Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

        The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

  6. Eureka Springs

    2016 Dem party platform. (pdf)

    We will also vigorously implement, enforce, and build on President Obama’s landmark Dodd Frank financial reform law, and we will stop dead in its tracks every Republican effort to weaken it. We will stop Republican efforts to hamstring our regulators through budget cuts, and we will ensure they have the resources and independence to fully enforce the law and hold both individuals and corporations accountable when they break the rules.

    Why have a platform if it’s not binding?

      1. Eureka Springs

        Agreed. Hence the following line of questions answer themselves as well.

        Why trust or support the D party at all?

    1. MichaelSF

      The lack of congruency between the Dem platform statements (generally OK) and what they did was a big factor in my Demexit.

  7. hemeantwell

    What would it take to buy these moneysponges off. Heitkamp’s $78k isn’t much. I realize we’re talking about a flow of funding over time, and also that said flow would be diverted to her opponents.

    Which then brings up the idea of what happens when someone steadily and loudly goes after the big banks. What would befall Heitkamp if she claimed she had a revelation and decided that regulation, much more regulation, is necessary, and likewise for the sort of toughness in times of crisis prescribed above by Wray? Doesn’t the fact that she’s from North Dakota, unique in having a state bank, suggest her electorate might be at least a bit more willing to pay attention? You have to wonder if the problem is not so much cowardice and worry over her propaganda budget as it is inertia, an unwillingness to take the time to present yourself as a defender of Main Street. She has to campaign every six years. Seems like a blown opportunity.

    1. allan

      Heitkamp is in it for a lot more than $78,000: From Alex Kotch at The Young Turks:

      … One of the bill’s chief architects, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and her husband have nearly $1 million invested in two of the bill’s biggest winners, J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, according to a 2016 financial disclosure document reviewed by TYT Investigates.

      Heitkamp and her spouse collectively own between $100,001 and $250,000 of corporate securities stock in J.P. Morgan, as well as an additional up to $45,000 in a J.P. Morgan fund. Heitkamp alone owns between $215,000 and $550,000 worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock, and including joint investments, she and her husband have up to $600,000 invested in the company. Together, the Heitkamps could have up to $895,000 invested in the two firms.

      For the senator, whose net worth was roughly $4.5 million in 2015, according to an estimate by the Center for Responsive Politics, these J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway investments potentially account for a substantial portion of her assets. …

      Even discounting the “up to $45,000 in a J.P. Morgan fund”, which sounds like a fund run by JPMC but which could be invested in anything, about 20% of Heitkamp’s family wealth is invested in two winners from the bill.
      (The claim that she and other supporters of the bill make that the biggest banks won’t benefit from it
      are out and out lying.) But, as Chief Justice Roberts would say, no quid pro quo, no problemo.

  8. JEHR

    What I don’t understand is how Michael Shkreli, CEO, is found guilty of financial fraud against investors in 2018 but not one CEO of a bank–not Goldman Sachs’s CEO, not Citigroup’s CEO, not JP Morgan Chase’s CEO, not Wells Fargo’s CEO and not Lehman Brothers’ CEO–was found guilty of committing Accounting Control Fraud and/or mortgage fraud after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-8. Amazing! But there’s not much satisfaction in such a small price to pay for fraud (7 years) that ruins other people’s lives permanently. What is also amazing is that it is not illegal to price a drug out of the reach of most users just for the sake of making a huge profit!

    1. perpetualWAR

      Obama said “actions on Wall Street weren’t illegal only immoral.” And that set the tone. No one was going to be found guilty of unlawful actions…..even though what Wall Street conducted was a racketeering operation.

      1. JBird

        It’s not the legality, or even the morality, it’s not being blatantly scoffed at.

        Shkreli is a slimy narcissitic toad that used, back stabbed, insulted, and annoyed everyone which is why he got the shiv; just think of the former head of Wells Fargo, Tim Sloan, who did the same and not only to his customers, and low level employees, but also to Congress.

        Who me robbing you? Really, no, I know nothing I see nothing really! Your eyes, they must be lying to you! And you’re too stupid to see that!

        That is why they got nailed. People might not like being robbed, but they really don’t like being insulted in the doing. Had they done the usual mea culpas, faux apologies, and even token restitution of some kind, one would not be in prison, and the other still CEO.

  9. Andrew Cockburn

    Surely, for the big banks the most significant part of this legislation is the provision allowing them to count municipal bonds as “liquid assets” thus boosting their capital ratio. In reality, of course, these are highly illiquid. Therefore, come the next crash, authorities will be faced with the prospect either of JPM, Citi, etc, attempting to dump said bonds thereby tanking the municipal finance system of the country – unacceptable – or yet again bailing out the banksters to the tune of $trillions. Will the guilty parties be called to account? Don’t ask.

  10. edmondo

    So these Blue Dogs who are gutting the already underwhelming Dodd Frank may not be with us much longer, at least politically.

    And we all know that when their Republican replacements take their senate seats that Dodd-Frank will be strengthened and enforced to the letter of the law, right?

    1. Waking Up

      Money funds everything else we do, whether public or private. If our financial system is based on “control fraud” and corruption, then EVERYTHING else is corrupted. So, if you have two major parties (Democrats and Republicans) which always support moneyed interests first (keeping in mind that what we see happening here is another version of rotating villians), does it really matter which party is elected? Republicans are in your face about corruption. Democrats are sleazy with behind closed doors tactics. Will any of the twelve Democrats voting yea for this bill receive any repercussions for their actions within the party and Congress? And be sure to check whether Bill Clinton, who signed the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act in 1999 which repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and created Citigroup is out stumping for any of the 12.

      1. sierra7

        It should be very clear especially since the crash of 2008 and aftermath that Americans live within a, political/financial/MIC criminal enterprise. Those who have gotten away with so much plunder and murder should be thinking: “What Are You Gonna Do When They (we) Come For You?”

    2. sgt_doom

      Thank you!

      I mean, besides destroying all those small banks out there, and thus consolidating the power and profit of the top five banks (and credit derivatives dealers), and instituting BOLI along with the ability to do covert bank bailouts utilizing offshore clearinghouses, what exactly was the upside of Dodd-Frank?????

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      No, we don’t know that. In fact, we should expect the opposite.

      The reason for purging these Blue Dog demotraitors is to purge and burn the DemParty down to a non-demotraitor stub of people who really liberadically mean what they liberadically say. If such people even exist. And if they do exist, once they have zero Clintobamacrat filth left in the party to cater to, they will be able to go “Red Gingrich”, paralyzing the House and Senate until they are able to take them over . . . like the Gingriches did for the Republican Party to begin with.

      That is why to kill off the Little Blue Doggies.

  11. Chauncey Gardiner

    IMO this legislation has been under the corporate MSM’s “cone of silence” and the Stormy Daniels and Russia diversions. Thank you for NC and Marshall Auerback for highlighting this bill and to the senators (Sanders, Warren, Brown et al), who caused me to phone my own senators’ offices to express my opposition to it early last week. Although this bill is important in that it weakens regulatory oversight of both US and foreign mega banks with significant US operations, I personally believe the bankers’ lobbyists long ago arranged another denouement and related looting through their ability to book their speculations in financial derivatives in FDIC-insured depository institutions. We need restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, but are unlikely to get it until we can regain control of our elections and campaign finance laws. That in turn will require overturning the Orwellian named Citizens United decision and over a century of bogus legal decisions regarding corporate personhood.

    Here is a pertinent extract from a speech this week by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown about this bill (h/t “Wall Street on Parade”):

    … “Washington is suffering from collective amnesia. Thankfully, the IMF – an agency of international financial experts – has done us a favor to help jog memories. They’ve catalogued 300 years of history of bank deregulation efforts all across the globe. You know what they found? We deregulate, the economy explodes, we put in protections, the economy gets better, and we deregulate again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    We can do better. We owe it to the people we serve to do better. The Senate owes it to the 176,000 kids in Ohio, and other kids across the country, whose lives and educations were disrupted by the foreclosure crisis.
    We owe it to the millions of people whose retirements were wiped out while big banks were bailed out.
    We owe it to the students who graduated into the Great Recession, and may have lower earnings for the rest of their lifetime.

    The watchdogs who understand these markets are trying to warn us. Paul Volcker has cautioned us about this bill. He was a Fed Chair for Presidents Carter and Reagan. So has Sheila Bair, who helped us put protections in place after the crisis. Sheila Bair is a Republican warning us about this bill. Tom Hoenig, the current Vice Chair at the FDIC – selected for that position by Republicans – has told us this bill is harmful. Barney Frank has said he’d vote “no” if he were in the Senate. Former Fed Governor Dan Tarullo has outlined a long series of concerns. Sarah Bloom Raskin, Antonio Weiss, Gary Gensler, law professors, fair housing advocates, big bank experts, people who provide legal services across this country and civil rights groups are all telling us we cannot go down this path again.

    We know what happens next. It is hubris to think we can gut the rules on these banks again, but avoid the next crisis.

    There are so many important things that this body could be spending its time on. We could be addressing the fact that workers and retirees in Ohio, and across this country, could have the pensions they spent a lifetime earning slashed in half if Congress doesn’t act. We could be addressing the fact that 400,000 Ohioans have to pay more than half their income each month just to keep a roof over their head. We could be creating jobs, tackling the opioid epidemic, lowering drug prices, or investing in our crumbling roads and bridges. But instead, we’re here doing more favors for the largest banks.

    Whose side are we on?… Megabank lobbyists, or American taxpayers and homeowners and students and workers?”

  12. Tedwa

    We’re trapped, by a media that absolutely will not allow more than 2 parties, Republicans and Democrats. We’re trapped when money is the largest factor in an election and in politics and in making “public” policy. When are they going to “allow” us to finance elections on our own?
    When are they going to allow the true public finance of everything? For instance, TV, what shows we want to watch. Why not public financing for that? No commercials and you actually get to see what you want to watch. It’s all about money and control of the public and it’s working and they love it.
    We’re trapped in a system of 2 parties that are both corrupt and getting corrupter with each passing day. We’re trapped in non-public financing of everything and making us pay for it every day after day and year after year. It’s disgusting.
    Boy, if I had money…..

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Nobody prevented small donors from funding Sanders’s campaign. There is nobody to disallow small donors from doing the same for someone else.

      “Can’t prevent” the Black Hat Overclass from funding campaigns is not the same as “will not allow” the White Hat Lowerclasses from small-donor funding some well-targeted campaigns.

  13. UserFriendly

    I seriously hate absolutely everything about this miserable country. Nothing ever changes for the better. It has been one big constant decline since I was born. Improvement is consistently impossible. Every day I get a little closer to writing out a detailed condemnation of both parties and the media, posting it publicly and flying to DC to eat a bullet on the steps of the capitol building.

    1. flora

      So you are giving up? Advertising’s insinuation and current political PR that ‘instant gratification is possible’ has had its desired effect upon your thinking, imo. Bernays would be pleased. UF, love your comments and links in general, but here I must conclude you are much younger than me and have fallen prey to advertising. Please remember; the populist movement that began in localities in 1880 and in 1890 nationally didn’t have it’s first large successes until 1915-20, and its largest national success until the New Deal.

      Think of planting trees. They start as saplings. You will never see the grown tree nor sit beneath it’s shade. Still, one plants trees. (Sorry for sounding so sappy.)

    2. Northeaster

      Instead of eating the bullet yourself, take out some of the cronies hierarchy, many to choose from. They can easily replace Members in CONgress who do their bidding (but they’re open game I guess). Take out their families too. If you’re going to go out, maybe do some actual good before you do.

      Both Party’s are ostensibly the same when it comes to fucking over The American People.

      Plan, train, execute.

    3. DJG

      UserFriendly. I thought about your comment. Do give flora a fair hearing (see below). Like her, I’m not trying to pull rank in the form of age. Living as I do in Illinois, I have voted, it seems, since time immemorial for change and fairness. I have seen great candidates regularly go to their defeat. Yet the movement for reform here hasn’t abated. It is as vigorous as ever. (It is in states that “aren’t corrupt” where passivity seems to reign.)

      I am reminded constantly as a Chicagoan that May Day supposedly was started here. The Haymarket Riots were over the eight-hour day and the rights of working people.

      La lotta continua, as the Italians say. It is a real struggle, almost timeless. (Don’t let yourself by affected by the commodification of dissent in the form of The Resistance.)

      Bread and Roses, that’s what we are struggling for.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      The country is bigger than the social system ruling it. There is still the sun, the moon, and the four seasons. If one has determined that one can do nothing to improve the social system or even prevent its further downward slide, one might consider setting up one’s own survival doomstead alone or with co-doomsteaders and prepare to survive the unwinding collapse.

      Survival is the best revenge.

  14. John D.

    “So these Blue Dogs who are gutting the already underwhelming Dodd Frank may not be with us much longer, at least politically. And even though the party is remarkably insistent on adhering to a strategy of corporate toadying that has led it to hemorrhage seats at all levels of government, if these seats all go red, it might be a message even the Democrats might not be able to ignore.”

    I wouldn’t count on that if I were you. These people are richly rewarded by their paymasters to ignore all such unpleasantness. If the Blue Dogs lose, they and their propagandists online (with copious assistance from the “liberal media,” natch) will simply start screaming that they lost because they were too liberal, or failing that, that everyone’s to blame but themselves. The former excuse was Bill Clinton’s stock in trade whenever the Dems lost ground during his midterm elections, but the latter seems to be the preferred line nowadays. The Dem “leadership” will just dig their feet in and screech that the peasants are impossible to please and all want purity ponies, Bernie Sanders/Susan Sarandon/Jill Stein are evil, RussiaRussiaRussia, etc. etc., ad naseum, ad infinitum. Anyone else getting tired of this routine?

    1. Waking Up

      I am tired of the routine and would ignore their actions except for the fact that they make laws which effect millions of people.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      That is why they all have to be exterminated from politics and from public life. It would be good to set up an information tracking-sharing infrastructure to see and publicize where they all get private-sector employment so boycotts can be organized against their future employers till these ex-officeholders are fired from their private sector jobs and posts.

  15. Procopius

    Unfortunately, Gary Peters (D, MI) is not up for election this year. My other Senator, Debbie Stabenow, is. I don’t even know who her opponent is going to be, but I’m voting for her. When Peters does come up for election next (without looking it up, I think in 2020) I’m certainly voting against him, hopefully in a primary. I’m going to vote against him even if it means voting for a Republican, something I haven’t done since 1964.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Peters showed such promise. I too will vote my hatred for Peters’s demotreasonous support of Big Bank.

      Every piece of Blue Dog scum has to be wiped out.

  16. jake

    “if these seats all go red, it might be a message even the Democrats might not be able to ignore.”

    But since they senators won’t have lost these seats thanks to their support for this repeal bill, there’s no message for Democrats to ignore, even if they were disposed to listen to the electorate.

    Permanent minority status is no small thing; it allows Dems to grandstand without having to deliver on anything. The ideal arrangement for Democratic party is what prevails in New York State: a handful of nominal Democrats cede majority control to Republicans, who would otherwise be minority party in both Houses. This allows Dems, including one Andrew Cuomo, to virtue-monger as much they want, with no fear that progressive promises ever have to kept. Work great!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      This presents a very good case for comprehensive extermination of the Democratic Party from existence.

  17. The Rev Kev

    This could all get interesting over time. Because of behavior like this, the Democrats have already lost over a 1,000 seats which I would consider significant. At the same time, the DCCC has a list of “consultants” that all candidates must use whether they want them or not. If the Democrats keep on hemorrhaging elected people by either losing them to Republicans or Independents, will there be a point reached where there will be a rat-pit fight among the “consultants” for the business of a declining number of Democratic candidates left?
    Last night I got curious and looked up the website for the Democratic party and right there was the word DONATE and fields to put your name on their emailing list. Then went to the Republican party website and no Donate button at first look and, though a request fro your contact info, they were a bit more subtle about it plus a lot more info on what they were all about. I would say that the Democratic party needs better consultants for their media at the very least. Or maybe the Democrats are being clear about what their priorities are. Just an opinion of someone that does not live there.

  18. Altandmain

    This is one of the reasons why I am skeptical that even if the Democrats retake the House and Senate in the 2018 Midterms, that much will change.

    The only change will occur is if large numbers of these neoliberal Democrats are successfully primaried out.

    Otherwise, regardless of which party, we will see:

    – More handouts to corporations and the rich like this one
    – More wars
    – More attacks on civil liberties
    – More attempts to silence genuine efforts to solve the problem
    – More lobbying money used to corrupt politicians

    Real solutions need politicians that care about the people, not ones in it for money.

    So these Blue Dogs who are gutting the already underwhelming Dodd Frank may not be with us much longer, at least politically. And even though the party is remarkably insistent on adhering to a strategy of corporate toadying that has led it to hemorrhage seats at all levels of government, if these seats all go red, it might be a message even the Democrats might not be able to ignore.

    They will probably blame the left for not showing up again and invent something along the lines of “Russia hacked the midterms too”. Certainly, they were willfully ignorant about the lessons of the 2016 election.

  19. run75441

    Only 6 of them are Blue Dogs, the rest are secure such as Gary Peters. They use the excuse they are helping small banks now detailed in the bill as <$250 billion. Paul Volcker takes exception to the $250 billion and says it should be less. Paul also voted against Section 20 of Glass Steagall and Greenspan voted for it. Where would we be today if the Fed had not letting savings banks gamble on Wall Street?

    Loosening regulations on 25 of the 38 banks who each played a role in the 2008 recession seems silly at best. What has changed to make them worthy as they are back to their same old ways. In my letter to Gary Peters I pointed out: the Americans for Financial Reform wrote, the increase "removes the most severe mandate for 25 of the 38 largest banks accounting for over $3.5 trillion in banking assets and more than one-sixth of the U.S. total.” The bill relaxes capital standards or what reserves a bank must have on hand to meet needs in case of crisis. Of the 25 banks to be deregulated are included the U.S. holding companies of scandal-plagued foreign banks such as Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, UBS, and Credit Suisse deserving to be regulated more closely.

    I am sure Mr. Potter’s much larger regional/national bank will be extremely pleased Congress has decided to place his bank alongside of George Bailey’s friendly community bank to be granted regulatory relief.

  20. Tomonthebeach

    From RINOs to DINOs

    The Wicked Witch of the East, Ann Coulter, invented the term RINO to refer to Republicans who were not conservative “enough” for her and Gingrich as Republicans in Name Only. Looks like the Democrats have the same problem; Democrats in Name Only.

    Wonder why DCCC is not working as hard to dump the dirty dozen as it is to besmirch Too-Left-of-Clinton Dems?


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