TARP Chief Elizabeth Warren: “It’s the Bank Lobbyists vs. American Families”

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Elizabeth Warren is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.  She teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law, and has devoted much of the past three decades to studying the economics of middle class families.  She is also the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to investigate the U.S. banking bailout, known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program…

She is a leading advocate for accountability and transparency. In 2007, she also advocated the policy of creating a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which President Barack Obama has supported, against the wishes of the banking lobby who is against it in a big way.  I believe where things stand now is that Congress has asked the banking lobby for permission to at least appear as if it’s debating something having something to do with consumers.

Appearing on Bill Maher last Friday, Elizabeth Warren said several things I think are more than worth noting, so I am noting them here.

Elizabeth began by stating something so striking that I had to run for paper and pencil to jot it down.  Bill Maher was asking her what’s happening in Washington D.C. these days and she replied:

“It’s Bank Lobbyists vs. American Families.”

Warren then went on to say: “Six months ago, I really thought that we were on the brink of financial reform.”  In response, Maher asked her what she was smoking back then.  The audience laughed.  I did not.

Bank Lobbyists vs. American Families?  Wow… I didn’t even know they were both playing in the American League.

Actually, I don’t want to be even moderately funny about this topic.  The Harvard professor who has spent the last thirty years studying the economics of middle class families just said that in the United States of America, there is some sort of battle being waged between a well-funded special interest group representing the financial services industry… and American families.  Ah yes… the classic tale of high-powered Wall Street executives locked in a struggle with… my family?  Why is it that I feel like the Washington Generals and the fix is in?

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Warren then went on to say: “Six months ago, I really thought that we were on the brink of financial reform.”  In response, Maher asked her what she was smoking back then.  The audience laughed.  I did not.

She said: “The problems could not be more obvious, and quite frankly the solutions are just about that obvious, but we can’t seem to get the two together.”

At this point, I had to remind myself that a Harvard professor who was placed in charge of overseeing a $700 billion bailout of our financial institutions and a handful of miscellaneous others, just said that the problems couldn’t be more obvious and the solutions the same… but even though we’re still sinking fast into a lost couple of decades, we just can’t seem to get our act together.

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I hit the pause button on my Tivo.  Breathe.  Fight the urge to weep uncontrollably.  Make a mental note to ask my physician to write me a prescription for Ativan.  Okay… back to the show.

Bill asked why this was more of an explanation and she replied:

“The reason that we’re not changing things in Washington is that the banks have lobbyists in Washington in numbers I’ve never seen.  They’re coming not just once a month or once a week, or even once a day.  These guys are coming in two, three, four times a day.  They’ve got their position papers, and they just keep slamming in the same direction over and over and over.  And people that want to advocate for American families, that want some changes, or want to level the playing field just don’t have that kind of lobbying power.  And so what we’re really watching here is a David and Goliath story of monumental proportions.”

I don’t recall being taught about this in 8th grade civics or 10th grade U.S. History.  When did our system change like this… and for the record, I liked the old words to our anthem much better.

My country used to be

More than an economy

Of thee I sing

Land where I bought my house

When I still had a spouse

Next time I’ll vote for Mickey Mouse

Or move to Bejing

Now we pledge our thanks

To those that run the banks

To take our country back, we may need tanks

Let freedom ring

(No judgments … it’s a work in progress, remember.)

Warren closed out the show making a couple of comments about the Credit Card Reform Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by the President last year, and went into affect on Monday of this very week.  You might remember my article’s headline about a bank with a 79.9% interest rate.  That’s the result of that whole reform thing too.  Here’s what Warren had to say:

“Credit card reform… It’s like we put up ten fence posts in a wide open prairie.  If you smack straight into one, you really will get hurt.  But if you want to hire just one lawyer, let alone an army of lawyers, you can just run a little to the left or right of the post and it’s business as usual.”

The banks get to hire lawyers?  I don’t understand.  Do they pay them once the fence post has been struck, or just for moving it?

The Center for Responsible Lending published a report about a week ago saying that of the ten bad credit card practices that have been outlawed by Congress, the banks have already figured out eight new devices for getting around them.

Have they now?  Well isn’t that nice.  How does Congress feel about that report?   When the banksters show up on Capitol Hill does one of them kneel down behind Rep. Frank and the other push him over?  What’s going on around here?  What happened to this old legislative process: Click Here!

In closing, here are the immortal words of Simon Johnson, who was the Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”), and now teaches at M.I.T.

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

That’s it and that’s all.  Nothing funny about that…

Ergo bibamus!

# # #

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Comments

  1. cmckee says

    The lobbyist wave is really nothing new. Big Oil did it when their mega-profits where under question, NRA does it when there is a gun bill in front of Congress. The Auto Industry makes sure they have legions on Capital Hill when they feel it is appropriate. And right now Banks are no different. Unfortunately those at Capital Hill are too accustom to listening to Lobbiest. They figure that whoever is screaming the loudest must be right. Banks are using this attitude to their advantage. It would never happen but the best thing to happen to this country would be to enact term limitation.

    <A href="http://www.theutahhomemortgage.com">Collette McKee</A>

  2. legallybetter says

    fyuk

  3. JohnWright says

    Well that is why we need to turn around and make it:

    “American Families vs. Bank Lobbyists”

    Revelations Chapter 18:
    "THEY LIVED IN SHAMELESS LUXURY ......" I think of BofA and the people at the top when I read this. I am not suggesting that this scripture actually means that it is BofA. I am just simply suggesting that there are similarities. Never the less, these CEO people probably live in their mega mansions in no fear of foreclosure. After all, we do not read anything about the CEO of BofA being foreclosed on. Instead we read in USA Today:

    “Bank of America and two former top executives were charged with securities fraud.”

    Was anybody really surprised? I remember it seemed like the Countrywide CEO retired the minute the housing crisis broke out. Remember those articles that stated:

    “Countrywide Financial Corp. CEO Angelo Mozilo, under fire over the size of his potential payout from the proposed sale of his troubled mortgage company, says he is forfeiting some $37.5 million in severance pay, fees and perks he was scheduled to receive upon his retirement.” Wow! I wonder what his house looks like!? Well at least he got his bail out or modification from BofA.

    Too big to fail banks such as Countrywide and BofA, were basically giving out loans that they knew that people would default on. This was done with practically no verification of income. Subsequently, these piggy banks would make millions upon millions of dollars. Leaving the American economy holding the bag full of bad loans. Once the piggy banks realized they had zero accountability, because Wall Street would buy these bad loans, they did not care. This is really where the problem starts. In the end, it seemed that their love of money, would be more important than their love of country. Basically because they knew that it was going to severely damage the American economy. Which incidentally Communist Russia was not brought down by nuclear weapons, but a failing economy. I mean if this were Iran or some other country, it would be considered an attack on the American economy. Ironically, the potential enemy here would not be named Iran, but MORE IRONICALLY NAMED Bank of America. Talk about being hung with your own rope! Maybe they should be named more appropriately “Bank of Defrauding America.”

    The little piggy banks potentially caused the whole crisis by:

    One:
    Giving out loans to people who could not afford the loan. In retrospect, they sort of controlled the price of houses with their invisible money, as well as qualifying unqualified borrowers. Thus resulting in flooding the housing market with people who actually could not afford the home they were purchasing. Less homes available on the market will drive the price of homes up. All this was done with them knowing that the market would eventually be flooded with foreclosures on the people they gave loans, that could not afford the payments. It was like a dam broke open flooding the market with foreclosed homes.

    Two:
    Making us lose our equity. The result of the instant flood of foreclosed homes on the market would result in driving the price of our homes instantly down. It seemed like we all lost our equity over night and we all became upside down on our loans. Basically our houses were not worth even what we bought them for or borrowed the money for. All potentially caused by the piggy banks.

    Three:
    Asking for a Bail out: BofA would have the audacity to barrow something like 45 billion dollars from the American Tax Payer. Then they turned around and said they didn’t need it. Of course they didn’t! They sold the loans off! But what did they do with the nearly 45 billion dollars while they had it? They probably put it in an account and collected millions in interest. Basically free money! So the piggy banks would actually be paid and rewarded for their bad behavior and potential crimes. Well how about giving us a billion to put in the banks and collect interest on for a few months. We will also give it back after we make all the interest off of it.

    Four:
    False promise of a modification: Then piggy banks promise the American people a bail out in the form of a modification. In which they delay, harass and abuse the people asking for them. Which makes us all suspicious and wonder what are they are actually up to now? But what a slap in the American peoples face, after we delivered their bail out in record time. What have they done with that three month trial period money that we gave them? Probably put in the bank and made interest on it again! Sounds like we are being used over and over and over again! Depending on BofA’s integrity and empathy in the form of a loan modification, is insinuating that they had any integrity or empathy to not cause it all in the first place. I see it as equivalent as asking the bully who just stole your lunch money for a loan!

    Five:
    In the end Thomas Jefferson was right:

    Thomas Jefferson 1802
    ‘I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered..’


    Revelations:
    “RENDER HER EVEN AS SHE HERSELF RENDERED, AND DO TO HER TWICE AS MUCH , YES TWICE THE NUMBER OF THINGS SHE DID; IN THE CUP WHICH SHE PUT A MIXTURE PUT TWICE AS MUCH AS THE MIXTURE FOR HER. TO THE EXTENT THAT SHE GLORIFIED HERSELF AND LIVED IN SHAMELESS LUXURY.”

    Is it time to start pouring twice the measure into BofA’s cup!

    WELL I HAVE HAD ENOUGH AND I AM FIGHTING BACK!

    John Wright Vs. Bank of America

    Please join my fight and show your support through your comments at www.unitedlawgroup.com

    Divided we might have fell America, but united we must stand!

    Sincerely,
    johns-wright@hotmail.com

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