Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Attack Of The Schumercrats


Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) is working overtime and largely behind the scenes, on behalf of a Finance Sector that has funded his political career to the tune of a cool $23,538,638, more than for any other politician in history who hasn't run for president-- and considerably more than several politicians who have run for president. First and foremost he has pledged to deliver a more pro-Wall Street-friendly Senate Democratic Party in 2017, one filled with schumercrats like Tammy Duckworth (IL), Ted Strickland (OH), Chris Van Hollen (MD) and, first and foremost, Wall Street's #1 pick for 2016, Florida New Dem Patrick Murphy.

So far this cycle, the banksters have stepped up to the plate for the schumercrats. The biggest recipient among people running for Senate is, as always, Chuck Schumer himself who has no primary opponent and no Republican opponent-- $2,519,661 in legalistic bribes. But among non-Senate incumbents, their biggest investment-- by far-- has been to Murphy: $787,750. Murphy is a proven entity who has carried their water in the House Financial Services Committee and worked assiduously on the banksters' #1 priority: undermining the Dodd Frank provisions that protect consumers from bankster avarice. The other Schumercrats have fared well from Wall Street as well, Chris Van Hollen raking in $323,857; Ted Strickland gobbling up $249,515; and Duckworth reveling in $248,801 worth of bankster generosity.

According to the L.A. Times' David Lazarus, the reason for Schumer's diligence and the schumercrats' Wall Street contribution might well be because 2016 will be the scene of a mega-battle over Dodd-Frank. Wall Street and its well-paid allies wants to "roll back financial reforms put in place after the financial meltdown that nearly brought the global economy to its knees." Patrick Murphy's ally on the House Financial Services Committee, chairman Jeb Hensarling (who Wall Street is almost as generous to as they are to Murphy) insists it's time to repeal "huge swaths of Dodd-Frank."
The goal of the law was to rein in risky practices that exposed banks and other lenders to staggering losses, prompting the government to step in with billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts. To fail to do so, officials and economists said at the time, would have made a worldwide depression a near certainty.

Yes, it was that bad.

Now, however, Republican lawmakers have declared war on Dodd-Frank, saying the law was an overreaction to a situation that wasn't as dire as people claimed.

..."You will see a visionary piece of legislation laying out the Republican vision for banking and capital markets," Hensarling promised.

He didn't elaborate, but it's reasonable to assume that the Republican vision will include less regulation of financial-services firms and a greater willingness to let the marketplace hold banks accountable for bad behavior.

Tom Feltner, director of financial services for the Consumer Federation of America, said that's a recipe for trouble.

"We wouldn't have gotten into the situation we got into seven years ago if the marketplace was sufficient to protect consumers," he told me. "The harms we saw at that time are clear evidence that system wasn't working."

Dodd-Frank isn't perfect. On the plus side, it created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which repeatedly has demonstrated its value by holding financial firms accountable for questionable activities. The agency says it has brought more than $10 billion in relief to beleaguered consumers since 2011.

At the same time, critics say Dodd-Frank didn't go far enough in preventing financial institutions from becoming "too big to fail." It leaves open the possibility that taxpayers again can be called upon to ride to the rescue with bailout bucks.

Banks gripe that the law's provisions have required them to spend millions of dollars complying with bureaucratic rules rather than focus on increasing revenue and meeting customers' needs. Smaller banks say Dodd-Frank treats them the same as larger firms that face greater risk, making it difficult to do business.

...Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, called this approach extremely shortsighted.
"Dodd-Frank benefits all consumers-- Republicans and Democrats," she said. "It provides protections that are intended to prevent another financial collapse."

Perhaps supporters and critics of the law can come together on changes aimed at easing the regulatory burden on smaller financial institutions. It's indeed a challenge for such companies to cope with numerous rules that may have little to do with their operations.

As it stands, Dodd-Frank defines any bank with more than $50 billion in assets as too big to fail, and thus worthy of greater regulatory scrutiny. Some in Congress would prefer to see that threshold raised to $500 billion. It's a conversation worth having.

There's little benefit, however, in Republicans repeatedly threatening to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It's foolish to act as though financial firms have earned our trust.

Since 2009, banks and other lenders have paid more than $200 billion to settle charges of violating various laws and regulations. Some parental supervision is clearly warranted.

"A law like Dodd-Frank is always going to be challenged by people who don't like regulation," Greenberg said. "In many cases, those are people who want profit at any cost."

The fight over Dodd-Frank will focus on what's best for business. All parties should keep in mind, however, that consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of our economic activity.

Businesses do well only when consumers have money to spend. That, ultimately, is what Dodd-Frank is meant to protect.

A few months ago Jim DeFede interviewed Patrick Murphy on WFOR-TV in Florida and a few minutes into the segment above DeFede questions Murphy about bankster greed. "Wall Street is going great," DeFede says. "Through the roof. Where does corporate greed come in in your mind?" Murphy acknowledges the problem: "No question it exists, and unfortunately America has topped the world in many ways, greed and selfish behavior." DeFede doesn't exactly accuse him of taking bribes from the banksters, but his next question gets close: "You sit on the House Financial Services Committee and you accepted a lot of money from banks on Wall Street. I could go through the list: CitiGroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, UBS, on down the line. You've accepted a lot of money from them. What are they expecting from you?

Murphy: "Nothing."

DeFede (laughing): "You think they expect nothing from you?

Murphy: "Nothing. I've never taken any pledge to not accept certain things. I don't tell people they're going to get anything but a hard-working Member of Congress. [This is especially rich inasmuch as Murphy was just named the least effective Member of Congress and is widely regarded as lazy as he is ineffective.] Sounding a lot like Donald Trump, with whom he has been in business, he then added, deceitfully, "The vast majority of my support comes from low-dollar donations, people from across the state of Florida sending five-, ten-dollar donations. You're not asking if I'm giving them any special commitments. That money adds up to significantly more than what these folks..."

DeFede, who may have seen the above chart from Open Secrets showing that only a minuscule 7% of Murphy's campaign contributions came from small donors, interrupts: "But if Bank of America ends up writing you checks for $10,000 here, $5,000 there, versus Joe Smith, who writes you a check for $25, there's a different weight there... You've been criticized for taking positions that have weakened Dodd-Frank. You've voted to delay implementation of some of the measures of Dodd-Frank that would be in protection guarantees against the type of greed that we saw the banks and the financial institutions use in the past. How do you address that?"

Murphy, uncomfortable and going into full-on liar mode worthy of a Carly Fiorina: "I support Dodd-Frank and the vast majority of Dodd-Frank is good. But like any legislation, its not perfect..."

Back in 2013, when Murphy was a budding New Dem freshman who had just months earlier left the Republican Party to run for Congress, we covered a controversial vote on an amendment written by CitiBank lobbyists meant to gut a piece of the above-mentioned Dodd-Frank financial-reform consumer-protection act. Even before the vote on the amendment itself, there was a normally party-line roll call on the Republican rule allowing it to proceed. Every single Republican plus six of the most corrupt Wall Street-owned Democrats voted for it, all New Dems and Blue Dogs: Ron Barber (AZ), Jim Costa (CA), Mike McIntyre (NC), Bill Owens (NY), Scott Peters (CA) and, of course, Murphy. The following day 70 Wall Street-oriented Democrats-- including Murphy, naturally-- joined all but three Republicans to pass CitiBank's amendment. The final vote was 292-122. The 70 bad Democrats were led over the aisle by corrupt corporate business shills among the Democratic leadership and the New Dem leadership: Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Crowley, Jim Himes, Ron Kind, and Rick Larsen. Murphy and the other 69 treacherous Democrats who crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP for the banksters' amendment that day were the ones who got the bulk of the bribery from Wall Street for the next four years.

Kudos to Jim DeFede for noticing the relationship between Wall Street contributions and Patrick Murphy's voting record. Few journalists ever connect these kinds of dots, and fewer still have the gumption to throw them into a congressman's face. One of his local Florida newspapers, the Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News, also noticed that Murphy was voting with his old party, the Republicans, on the legislation Wall Street was pushing. They pointed out on May 10 of this year, for example, that Murphy was one of only a few Wall Street-owned Democrats to vote with the GOP for delaying a provision of Dodd-Frank that would force banks to divest themselves of the risky investments that caused the 2008 financial crisis: "Murphy also was one of 29 House Democrats who in January voted for a two-year delay in implementing a Dodd-Frank provision that requires banks to sell off risky debt securities, called collateralized loan obligations, similar to the mortgage securities that caused the 2008 crash."

But what the Wall Street banksters pay off Murphy for is his votes inside the House Financial Services Committee, where he almost always votes against consumers and for the powerful banksters who give him almost all the campaign cash he spends that he doesn't get from his father and his father's corrupt friends and cronies. This is a typical-- hard-to-come-by-- vote count from the committee that another member, who told me he wants to puke whenever he sees Murphy plottting with his Republican pals, gave me. Notice that all the Republicans and five corrupt New Dems voted for another attempt to cripple Dodd-Frank while the actual Democrats voted against it. Same thing with this bill on May 7, 2013, which found Murphy and the other untrustworthy Democrats voting with the Republicans in the committee while actual Democrats tried to hold the line against the tide of Wall Street bribes.

The Democrat Wall Street and Schooner are running Murphy against for the open Florida U.S. Senate seat is Alan Grayson, a former Member of the Financial Services Committee who seems to have been sickened by the attitude there enough to asked to be transferred to the House Science and Technology Committee. He pointed out that "If you're on the Financial Services Committee and you take Wall Street money, it's not necessarily the fact that you're taking Wall Street money that matters, it's what you're doing in return. Are you, for instance, trying to water down the Dodd-Frank bill? When Wall Street lobbyists would see me walking down the hallway, they would turn and run the other direction. These are people who understand I'm not on their side, I wasn't going to do them any favors, and my vote was not for sale." Which is why no one will ever accuse Grayson of being a schumercrat. If you'd like to help him beat the onslaught of Wall Street money for Murphy, you can do that right here. In fact, please do.

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