Monday, June 28, 2010

Is Woefully Inadequate Financial Regulatory Legislation Ripping The Fig Leaf Off The Democratic Party?


Over the weekend I spent some time on the phone with a Capitol Hill staffer, a very depressed one. I'm a cheery, optimistic, cup half-full kind of guy-- and he even managed to get me depressed. The picture he painted of life working around a bunch of congressmen, their staffers and the lobbyists they love-- and we never even discussed Republicans at all-- is so ugly and unseemly that I can certainly see how it can quickly turn an idealistic young man into a nihilist... or Naderite. I sure hope he's wrong about some of this stuff.

One thing that shook me up was his supposition-- I think he said he isn't positive he's correct about this-- that getting mortgage lenders to renegotiate rates was primarily a kind of conspiracy between banksters, lobbyists and congressmen to wring a few more dollars out of consumers before their homes are foreclosed on. He felt strongly that members of Congress generally identified as among "the good guys" belong in prison. (If you're a conservative, don't get excited. If these Democrats belong in prison, their GOP counterparts would be getting the death penalty.)

And speaking of the death penalty, doesn't it look to you that the lobbyist industry-- I'm not talking about individual lobbyists, so don't get all in a huff-- as an industry should get the death penalty? I mean if there were no more corporate lobbyists would society be better off or worse off-- and by a lot or a little? And when it comes to Wall Street and banking, insurance and real estate... do these guys spend-- and quite effectively! $4,051,567,962 in lobbying since 1998 and another $1,395,315,634 in direct "donations" to federal candidates! As Durbin said, they own the Senate. As he didn't say, they own everything, including the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch. If only I wasn't 100% positive the teabaggers weren't a fully-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party I'd be looking for a way to get us "small people" beyond the tribal divisiveness that allows the elites to continue lording it over us.

Yesterday Rob Kall's analysis of the financial legislation coming up for a vote was another blow to any kind of ability to keep any kind of faith with the congressional Democrats. His premise, succinctly laid out in the first sentence is "We've been stabbed in the back again." And in case you missed the import: "We're screwed again. Obama and the democratic congress did it again-- created legislation that is labeled reform, but is so diluted it is worthless and won't prevent another financial meltdown." Monday's the Big Day. Can Obama and Democrats playing footsie with Wall Street actually make the Republicans look semi-plausible? Wall Street likes what Dodd and Frank are serving up-- stocks were up 3% Friday, what Kall interprets as a celebratory mood that the financial industry has escaped serious regulatory reform.
The Wall Street Journal expects that the legislation will be called the Dodd Frank bill.

Good!! Put their names on the bill. Make it clear who created the better-than-nothing, highly diluted, watered down, full of loopholes legislation. Dodd and Frank are sellouts who betrayed US consumers, betrayed the majority of their own constituents.

I spent at least an hour yesterday, reading article after article in the Wall Street Journal that breathed sighs of relief that the legislation was not as bad as the financial industry feared. The tough reforms-- Volcker, Lincoln-- were all gutted and watered down, with loopholes added.

There's only one conclusion. The bill is another sham reform, a gift to the finance industry, just like the health care reform bill was a gift to insurers, hospitals and big pharma. I assure you that built into this new "reform bill" will be new, expanded protections and extensions of privileges for finance companies. There may be some small changes that could have been passed in a far less extensive bill-- some minor tweaks-- but this bill is no great achievement.

The bill is another chimera of real change, guided by the faux change president, Barack Obama.

We now know that Obama is a staunch defender of big corporations, of lobbyist interests-- not of consumers, not of the people who worked so hard, with such hope and faith to elect him.

Personally, I'm going to do all I can to primary as many of the perpetrators of the Finance and health reform legislation as I can.

I'm going to work to make sure that Obama is a one term president.

Ready for President Mittens? And where have these people been? We've been running desperate primary races against these bad Democrats. We can use some help. We sure haven't been getting much. We won in North Carolina with Elaine Marshall and in Arkansas with Joyce Elliott but lost opportunities to replace less-than-worthless corporate Blue Dogs Jane Harman and Jim Matheson with consumer oriented populists Marcy Winograd and Claudia Wright. We're fast approaching Blue Dog v progressive primaries in Oklahoma and Georgia, where two of the worst Blue Dogs in the whole caucus, Dan Boren and John Barrow, are being challenged by progressive state Senators Jim Wilson and Regina Thomas. And then there's the Florida race in 6 weeks where Doug Tudor is looking very strong against Blue Dog shill Lori Edwards and in September we've got Mac D'Allesandro going up against conservative Democrat Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts. I hope Kall inspires some people to follow him into the sensible approach of primarying as many bad Democrats as there are left to be primaried.

As for Obama... anyone who really expected more from him should be ashamed. His record was clear. As we-- and others-- pointed out all through 2008 his voting record in the Senate always found him down at the bottom of the barrel, clustered between Max Baucus, Joe Lieberman, Mark Pryor, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson. "Obama," write Kall, "has betrayed the tens of millions who voted for him. His sell-outs in favor of the biggest industries have become routine and predictable." Did someone think he was only making believe he's an overly cautious corporatist? Better than a Republican? Sure... and that's something in case you've forgotten Bush/Cheney-- but it isn't what progressives should be striving and fighting for. Alan Grayson is. Doug Tudor is; Billy Kennedy is. Jim Wilson is. Regina Thomas is. Joyce Elliott is. They've proven it in their service and their lives. Blue America never raised one dime for Obama and never asked anyone to donate to his campaign. That was no coincidence or oversight. We knew what he would turn out to be-- better than Bush, better than McCain, worse that acceptable.

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At 10:27 AM, Blogger Torrid said...

Well agreed with everything in this piece--except the placement of Obama ideologically as a Senator with the Baucuses and Libermans of the Senate. That's really not true; he was in the left-to-center of the group of Democrats as recorded by Keith Poole's outstanding 109th Senate rankings:

Note he's slightly left in his votes to Schumer, Clinton,, I don't think it's accurate to put him with the troglodytes of the Dem Senate.

His 110th ranking is even more leftist--13th most liberal of all Senators--but it's based on fewer votes and obviously he was angling for President.

Otherwise, depressingly on point. Thanks.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous me said...

This, like so many other recent disasters, is entirely Obama's fault.

If he wanted financial reform, he would have started pushing hard for it the day after he became president. If he wanted it, he would have started the fraud prosecutions at the same time, instead of hiring the crooks himself.

If he wanted to avoid being on the defensive all the time, he would have started the prosecutions of Bushco immediately after taking office.

He did none of those things, and now he and we are fucked.

At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article!



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