Last December, Citigroup lobbyists slipped a last-minute provision into the must-pass spending bill to make it easier for the biggest banks to get bailed out by taxpayers.
We did everything we could to stop that lousy provision. I gave speeches, people signed petitions, groups called Congress. But it was too late. Congress couldn’t let the government shut down.
We lost a year ago, but we did not go away quietly. Every time the Republicans have tried to sneak another terrible provision into a bill, you’ve helped us sound the alarm. You’ve signed petitions, made calls, tweeted, and posted on Facebook. When two Wall Street banks threatened to withhold their contributions to Senate Democrats because of our work, you quadruple-matched their money. You’ve made it clear that if they want to rig the system, we’re going to fight back.
With a must-pass spending bill on the table, the Wall Street banks came at us in full force – but we fought them back! Yesterday, Congress passed another spending bill without a single provision to materially weaken the rules on Wall Street. No gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. No tying the hands of the cops who police the big banks. No delay of a new conflict-of-interest rule for retirement advisers.
And we did it while permanently expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to keep more than 50 million Americans – including 25 million children – from seeing sharp cuts in their income, and preventing many of them from falling into poverty. That’s an enormous victory for opportunity in America. (And we got an extra $2 billion for NIH – a down payment on a healthier future.)
Don’t get me wrong – this budget deal was a compromise, and it’s got some really nasty stuff in it. I strongly oppose lifting the ban on exporting crude oil. I’m deeply concerned that the cybersecurity language threatens key privacy protections for Americans. And I gag when I think about the billions of dollars in tax breaks going to giant corporations.
But I’m a realist: With a Republican-controlled Senate, a Republican-controlled House, and an army of Wall Street lobbyists spending zillions of dollars to target Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Agency, stopping these guys from rolling back financial reform is big deal.
A lot of people deserve credit for thisoutcome. For months, Democrats in Congress stood tough against the big banks. The Administration – from the President and the Treasury Secretary right on down the line – refused to bend.
And here’s the most important part: You also made this happen. This team made it happen. One financial reporter wrote yesterday:
“The days of these measures slipping through unnoticed are simply over. One comment from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and it’s off to the races. It’s not so much a failure of the lobbyists (though they still get the incoming fire) as it is a complete shift in both the way the sausage gets made and the politics surrounding the banking industry.”
Sure, this isn’t over. The Wall Street banks will be back, and they will swing a lot of weight. And now we’ve got more work to do on climate change, privacy, and corporate taxes. But when naysayers claim that it’s impossible to change Washington and that we can’t beat powerful lobbyists, remember what you accomplished this week. We’ve proven that when we stand up and fight for America’s values, we can win.