Who Really IS For Fiscal Responsibility? John Boehner? Charlie Dent? If You Believe That... Wanna Buy A Bridge?
Who saved the day for Bush's no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout? Shaft!
Wednesday President Obama reacted to the ongoing debate on financial reform, to threats from Republicans to torpedo it and to the rare bipartisan passage, 63-36, of Jeff Merkley's amendment to clean up mortgage lending being restored to the bill the Senate is working on to bring some kind of accountability back to Wall Street. (Every Democrat-- including Ben Nelson-- voted for it, as did 5 Republicans. Yesterday another aspect of that bill, Al Franken's amendment to reform the horribly corrupt credit ratings agencies, passed 64-35, this time with eleven Republican votes, although some of the Democrats heavy in the pockets of the banksters, like Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Lieberman, voted with the GOP leadership against it.) Anyway, back to Obama. This was his statement Wednesday:
Throughout the debate on Wall Street reform, I have urged members of the Senate to fight the efforts of special interests and their lobbyists to weaken consumer protections. An amendment that the Senate will soon consider would do exactly that, undermining strong consumer protections with a special loophole for auto dealer-lenders. This amendment would carve out a special exemption for these lenders that would allow them to inflate rates, insert hidden fees into the fine print of paperwork, and include expensive add-ons that catch purchasers by surprise. This amendment guts provisions that empower consumers with clear information that allows them to make the financial decisions that work best for them and simply encourages misleading sales tactics that hurt American consumers. Unfortunately, countless families-- particularly military families-- have been the target of these deceptive practices.
Claims by opponents of reform that this legislation unfairly targets auto dealers are simply mistaken. The fact is, auto dealer-lenders make nearly 80 percent of the automobile loans in our country, and these lenders should be subject to the same standards as any local or community bank that provides loans. Auto dealer-lenders offering transparent and fair financing products to their customers should welcome these reforms, which will make their competitors who don’t play by the rules compete on a level playing field.
We simply cannot let lobbyist-inspired loopholes and special carve-outs weaken real reform that will empower American families. I urge the Senate to continue to defeat the efforts of special interests to weaken protections for all American consumers.
The entire mess is an outgrowth of the aggressively conservative financial and economic agenda of Reagan and the two Bushes (and, many would argue, the passively conservative financial and economic policies of Clinton and the Republican-lite DLC Administration he oversaw). I don't give much credit in the brains department to the teabaggers-- too racist-oriented, too angry and too easily manipulated-- but they'll not stupid to look back to late September/early October, 2008 at the votes for Bush's no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout, the biggest give-away of taxpayer dollars to the criminal robber baron elite in history. A lot of people pointed to this as the prime reason Robert Bennett (R-UT) had his career ended for him at the hands of GOP delegates this past weekend. That's a correct analysis. Today, though, I want to look at what happened in the House-- and at one aspect of what happened in the House.
John Boehner and Paul Ryan were doing yeoman's work on behalf of the financial interests that have underwritten their political careers-- Boehner to the tune of $3,451,899 and the more junior Ryan to the tune of $1,764,115-- arm-twisting reluctant conservatives to go along with the Bush team on this blatantly horrible and unthought-through piece of legislation. On September 29 the bailout failed 205-228, 65 Republicans-- including the GOP leadership (John Boehner, Eric Cantor, current Senate candidate Roy Blunt, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, Adam Putnam, David Dreier, Spencer Bachus, Jerry Lewis, current Senate candidate Mike Castle, and current Senate candidate Mark Kirk)-- voted for it and 133 Republicans voted against it. The Bush financial team, which had solemnly promised the bailout to Wall Street went nuclear and over the weekend Boehner, Cantor and Ryan were the pointmen for bringing in enough votes to pass the bill. When it passed on October 3 Boehner, Cantor and Ryan had delivered for their Wall Street benefactors and suddenly the 65 Republican yes votes turned into 91 Republican yes votes.
Among the group that Boehner and Ryan, particularly, had threatened and bribed into changing their votes were Gresham Barrett, currently running for governor of South Carolina, fake moderate/fake conservative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who we'll come back to in a moment, Mary Fallin, currently running for governor of Oklahoma, Pete Hoekstra, currently running for governor of Michigan, Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Mean Jean Schmidt of Ohio, and Nebraska's Lee Terry. Dent is somewhat typical of the group of fence jumpers. He knew Republican base voters wouldn't like the vote but he was amenable to the blandishments of Boehner and Ryan. Right after he voted "no," in September he went bragging back to his district that "This bailout plan would have exposed taxpayers to a risk of $700 billion to buy toxic assets at inflated prices... Wall Street would benefit at the expense of the taxpayers. That is not acceptable." That was basically, what PA-15 voters wanted to hear. Now, keeping in mind that Dent has taken $789,145 in thinly-veiled bribes from the financial sector, Boehner and Ryan and the special interests they represent got to him... big time. On October 3 the bill was back, with $150 billion more, in porked-up "sweeteners" and the responsible congressman who was decrying $700 billion was voting for $850 billion instead-- still with no strings attached. (It might be worth recalling that since becoming a member of Congress in 2005, Dent has requested $203 million in earmarks while publicly making believe he is a crusader against government spending.)
The person who best understands Boehner's perfidy and cynical disloyalty to his constituents is Justin Coussoule, the progressive Democrat and West Point graduate running against him this year. Yesterday, Coussoule told us that Boehner has played a faithless game. "What voters are most fired up about is that not only was Boehner more than happy to wrangle a no-strings attached bailout for his Wall Street friends, he now is doing everything he can to block regulation to prevent any further meltdowns and subsequent bailouts. Surely our tax dollars are worth protecting and I would like to know why John Boehner won’t fight as hard on regulatory reform as he did on the bailout." I'd like to add that for all their empty railing against Boehner, the DCCC has yet to lift a finger-- or contribute a dime-- to Coussoule's campaign. They've already spent nearly a million dollars on the hopeless anti-healthcare, anti-Choice, anti-gay corporate shill they have running for Murtha's Pennsylvania seat. But Coussoule... crickets. That's why Blue America has made him a priority. Please consider a contribution to his campaign.