People are frustrated with Congress. Part of the reason, of course, is gridlock. But mostly it’s because they see a Congress that works just fine for the big guys but won’t lift a finger to help them.
And now the House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of government for the rich and powerful.
The House is about to vote on a budget deal – a deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money, and once again get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.
These are the same banks that nearly broke this economy in 2008 and destroyed millions of jobs. The same banks that got bailed out by taxpayers and are now raking in record profits. The same banks that are spending a whole lot of time and money trying to influence Congress to bend the rules in their favor.
I’m urgently calling on Congress to withhold support of the deal today until this dangerous giveaway is removed from the legislation. Join me right now to stand up to Wall Street.
You will hear a lot of folks say that the rule that will be repealed in the Omnibus is technical and complicated, and that you shouldn’t worry about it because smart people who know more than you about financial issues say that it’s no big deal. Don’t believe them.
Actually, the rule is pretty simple. Here’s what it’s called – the rule that the House is about to repeal – and I’m quoting from the text of Dodd-Frank – “PROHIBITION AGAINST FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BAILOUTS OF SWAPS ENTITIES.”
We put this rule in place after the collapse of the financial system because we wanted to reduce the risk that reckless gambling on Wall Street could ever again threaten jobs and livelihoods on Main Street. We put this rule in place because people of all political persuasions were disgusted at the prospects of future bailouts.
And now, no debate, no discussion, Republicans in the House of Representatives are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get a chance to repeal it.
That raises a simple question – why? If this rule brings more stability to our financial system, if this rule prevents future government bailouts, why in the world would anyone want to repeal it, let alone hold the entire government hostage in order to ram through the repeal?
The reason, unfortunately, is simple. It’s about money, and it’s about power. Because while this legal change could pose serious risks to our entire economy, it’ll also make a lot of money for Wall Street banks.
Wall Street isn’t subtle about this one – according to documents reviewed by the New York Times, the original bill that is being incorporated into the House’s spending legislation today was literally written by Citigroup lobbyists, who “redrafted” the legislation, “striking out certain phrases and inserting others.”
I know that House and Senate negotiators from both parties have worked long and hard to come to an agreement on the omnibus spending legislation. And Senate leaders deserve great credit for preventing the House from carrying out some of their more aggressive fantasies about dismantling even more pieces of financial reform.
But this provision goes too far. Citigroup is large, and it is powerful. But it is a single, private company. It shouldn’t get to hold the entire government hostage – to threaten a government shutdown – in order to roll back important protections that keep our economy safe.
This is a democracy, and the American people didn’t elect us to stand up for Citigroup. They elected us to stand up for all of the people.
We all need to stand and fight this giveaway to the most powerful banks in the country. Join me in calling on Congress to withhold support of this package until this risky giveaway is removed from the legislation.