Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Why Didn't The Democrats Move To Break Up The Too Big To Fail Banks? Too Many Conservative Dems Eager to Work With The GOP


I feel like Austin Frerick, the former Treasury Department economist running for Congress in the Des Moines-based Iowa seat (IA-03), has become a friend aside from just one of the Blue America-endorsed candidates. I feel like I learn something every time I talk with him. Looking at the corrupt-conservative push top deregulate Wall Street and give the bankster predators a green light to go back to ripping off their customers, Frerick told me that "the fundamental problem here is that we didn't address the key issue underlying the Great Recession and this 2nd Gilded Age: Economic Concentration. We should have broken up these too big too fail banks. Their economic power gives them political power to corrupt our system with things like manipulating the SIFI Threshold."

I got into the old argument today with a Democrat hoping to sell me on a candidate he really believes in. I asked if she's progressive and gathered that she's "progressive for her district" but not really progressive the way Bernie has been redefining progressive. I promised to talk with her and keep an open mind. But the argument can have no actual conclusion. My friend believes electing any Democrat is essential, no matter how conservative or corrupt or whatever, in order top put Trump in check and because they will vote for some good things. And he's right. Even Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)-- the single worst Democrat in the House (and, thanks soley to Upcheck Schumer, on her way to the Senate-- votes for progressive legislation... what is it now? Oh she's up to 37.56% of the time. That's better than any Republican except one endangered freshman in Pennsylvania (Brian Fitzpatrick). So he's for anyone with a "D" next to their name. And you know how I feel: I'm a strictly better Democrats kind of guy. I know not ever Democrat can be as good as Ro Khanna (100%-CA) and Jamie Raskin (100%-MD). I see even Pramila (97.06%-WA) has slipped. But its worth aspiring-- especially in primary season-- towards electing men and women like Mark Pocan (98.42%-WI), Nanette Barragán (98.51-CA), Jan Schakowsky (96.44%-IL) and Barbara Lee (95.08%-CA). There are even people with overall "A" rankings from ProgressivePunch who represent tough districts that Trump won, like Matt Cartwright, who is being heavily targeted by the GOP because of his strong progressive voting record and his stellar leadership on our issues. Anyway, my friend and I are never going to agree on this, but it doesn't mean we can't work together on candidates on whom we both do agree. And I'll keep reminding him that there are solid, solid progressive leaders running for Congress in districts as red or redder than the one his candidate is running in-- just look at Dan Canon (IN-09), Tom Guild (OK-05), Derrick Crowe (TX-21), Jenny Marshall (NC-05), Austin Frerick (IA-03), James Thompson (KS-04), Dayna Steele (TX-36)... these men and women are communicating with voters along the lines of cutting edge policy.

I should send him David Dayen's essay at The Intercept from Monday, Republicans Now Turning Their Attention To Deregulating Wall Street. Why? Because Dayen explains that, unlike the tax and Obamacare battles, the GOP "can count on Democratic help in this fight." And in 2018 that's one of the fault-lines that divides progressives from... not progressives. Dayen reminded his readers that "During the debate over whether to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, not yet a senator, famously said at a crucial moment that her first choice was a strong agency, and her second was 'no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.'" I have a feeling my friend would find that wrong-headed but Senator Warren has written "23 different amendments [primarily attacking the new regulatory exemptions for banks above $50 billion in assets] for a markup on S.2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.” The Orwellian-named bill would actually deregulate several parts of the financial sector and unravel consumer protections in a corrupt alliance between Republicans and pro-Wall Street Democrats." These are the Wall Street Democrats working with the Republicans on this, all co-sponsors, basically, all the usual suspects:
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
Jon Tester (MT)
Mark Warner (VA)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Joe Manchin (WV)
Tim Kaine (VA)
Gary Peters (MI)
Michael Bennet (CO)
Angus King (I-ME)
Donnelly, Heitkamp and Tester are all on the Banking Committee and all up for reelection in red states Trump won. Warner, a notorious corporate whore, is also on the Banking Committee, but not up for reelection this cycle.
Democratic staffers on the Banking Committee cite three major problem areas for S.2155. First, despite being pitched as relief for community banks and small lenders who played no role in the financial crisis and got caught up in the regulatory undertow, the bill extends that aid to the big boys. It eliminates automatic enhanced standards, like higher capital requirements and “living wills” that lay out how to unwind the firm in case of trouble, for banks with between $50 and $250 billion in assets. This includes large regional and national players like American Express, SunTrust, and BB&T, and foreign megabanks like Barclays and Deutsche Bank, whose holdings in the United States fall within that threshold. These international lenders have been notorious “repeat offenders,” paying tens of billions of dollars in fraud penalties for actions like repossessing the cars of servicemembers while they fought overseas.

In all, the bill removes enhanced supervision from 25 banks that control $3.5 trillion in assets and received $48 billion in taxpayer bailouts, according to an analysis from Public Citizen.

S.2155 also changes stress tests-- which check if banks can manage hazardous scenarios-- for all banks, making them “periodic” (which could mean whatever regulators want it to mean, staffers say) instead of annual. So JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, along with literally every big bank in the country, recipients of hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts, get assistance in this “small bank” relief bill. The stress test itself would change-- at the discretion of Trump’s deregulatory army-- for large regional firms.

Next, the bill rolls back protections on the mortgage market, by tweaking “safe harbor” and “qualified mortgage” provisions in ways that would allow small lenders to sell high-cost adjustable-rate mortgages and avoid accountability in court for wrongful foreclosures. Just because a no-documentation or interest-only mortgage comes from a community bank doesn’t make it a safe financial product.

The bill also eliminates the need for appraisals in certain rural areas, creating incentives to cheat homebuyers; exempts sellers of manufactured homes like trailers from mortgage rules, which benefits the dominant player in that space, Warren Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway; and restricts data collection about mortgage lending that could help regulators spot the next crisis.

Finally, there’s no “consumer protection” worthy of the name in the bill. The tentpole consumer piece is a watered-down version of a recent bill from Warren that would offer consumers stung by data breaches at credit reporting agencies like Equifax one free credit freeze and unfreeze every year. Warren’s bill would have made all credit freezes free. Even Equifax eventually offered a lifetime credit freeze, more than the authors of S.2155. And the measure pre-empts states from giving more generous terms to its citizens.

...[Warren has created] politically tough amendments for Democrats like Heitkamp, Tester, Donnelly, and Warner to oppose, especially after spending the last week railing against Republicans for waging class warfare on low-income Americans in the tax bill. Republicans may defeat these on their own, but the goal is to name and shame Democrats who support this giveaway to big banks without bringing along anything for the public like more jobs, higher wages, labor protections, and safeguards against bank deceptions.

While pro-bank Democrats like Tester have used high-profile hearings to insist that S.2155 does not put the financial system at risk, they haven’t had to specifically defend lowering regulations on banks that took TARP bailout funds and paid enormous fines for wrongdoing, and they haven’t enumerated what ordinary people get out of the deal instead of bank executives. Warren’s amendments will force some kind of answer on that score.
When we covered this last week we spoke with Elizabeth Warren collaborator, Orange County professor and congressional candidate (CA-45), Katie Porter, who told us that "The chances that Congress repeals key protections for our economy illustrates the risks that come when candidates work for banks, rather than families. The incumbent in my race, Mimi Walters (R CA-45), voted for the House's CHOICE Act and will give Wall Street anything it wants. In fact, her only non-political job ever was working for Drexel, Burnham & Lambert, a posterchild for banking's lawlessness, as its executives faced indictments and the firm went bankrupt. In my campaign to replace Mimi Walters, I am not taking money from anyone who works for Wall Street or big banks--and I am the only candidate that I know of in the country with this strong position. I believe that the big banks have outsized influence, and that we should not let history repeat itself. Allowing banks to escape from protections puts our entire economy at risk. People can trust that I'll take my lifelong commitment to whistleblowing on bank misconduct straight to the House Financial Services Committee when I am elected to Congress."

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At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're wrong you know. Even good dems are still democraps and still work towards the money's agenda lest they lose choice committee seats and/or campaign money from Pelosi or scummer or the dnc.

Let us never forget that the bills that created TBTF were passed by a democrap congress and signed by a democrap president (Clinton). And when breaking up TBTFs was part of an electoral mandate, a democrap president and a supermajority democrap congress refused to act upon it.

WRT TBTF and finance and refusal to enforce existing law, the democraps have more than proven themselves a total menace to the world's economies. The recession they created took $20 trillion from the WORLD'S economies via fraud, not just our own.

So... if you enjoyed 2008 and yearn for more, by all means, keep voting for democraps. Even the better ones.

At 5:02 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Umm, Anonymous above, what is your recommendation? Just sit back and watch?

Progressive Congresses, with strong progressive Democrats, have done good things for this country (albeit a long ago) and that is our only way out of this mess that I can see. Much of the Hillary hatred from the left was due to everything you said about Dems, and well deserved, but look what we have now - insanity running the country. Our only hope is to get many more progressives in Congress. Maybe people need to suffer a lot more, like in 1929, before this will happen, though in this day and age this may be a death knell for our country and the rest of the world will go down with us.

Meanwhile, the move towards fascism keeps on rollin', rollin', rollin' along.

At 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, the ONLY way out of this is for VOTERS to get their melons out of their sphincters. When anyone running with a D on their website cannot win because voters realize that it's a wasted vote (for all the reasons I keep reiterating), then good people who want to serve but not serve only the billionaires will have to find a different way to associate.

Frankly, it will probably take someone like Bernie or Elizabeth (or maybe Grayson), who has or can raise a few scores of millions on rep alone, to stand up, repudiate the corrupt democrap cesspool, and lead the way. Voters tend to be like you and just assume that all things are binary and rely on the myth that electing 2-10% progressives at the bottom of the party will fix the top. It won't. It can't.

I see a mass migration to the Greens as probably the quickest path beacause they have a spot on the ballots on almost all states. There's also the DSA which many will find distasteful because of the 'S', but is also less pervasively balloted. But that's about it.

In this case, I doubt the degree of suffering will matter. Voters like you are pious in their binary thinking... refusing to consider ANYTHING but evil vs. less evil. But if you clear your head and review the past 37 years, you'll realize that lesser evilism is a varying speed descent into naziism and banana republicanism. I bet you even felt good about obamanation being elected and re-elected even though all he did was slow the descent a tick (compared to trump). This is the power of delusion.


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