Wall St. Reform Passes! Reformers Celebrate Rare Victory Over Entrenched Special Interest

After a classic David and Goliath showdown between Wall Street might and a small band of reformers, a 2,000 page Wall Street reform bill passed the U.S. Senate Thursday afternoon 60-39. The bill is now final and is headed to the President Obama’s desk for signature.

“We were outmatched 300-1, but the bill became stronger as it worked its way through the process,” said Heather Booth, director of the national coalition Americans for Financial Reform (AFR). This shows that “with organized people and committed leadership, things can move in the right direction,” said Booth.

CMD at Netroots Nation

CMD Executive Director Lisa Graves, and Mary Bottari of CMD's BanksterUSA project will both be speaking this year at the Netroots Nation 2010 gathering in Las Vegas, Nevada. Formerly known as the YearlyKos Convention, Netroots Nation magnifies progressive voices by providing a venue for exchanging ideas and learning how to more effectively use technology to influence public debate. It is an incubator for progressive ideas that challenge the status quo. Lisa will be speaking on fighting against expanded corporate rights in the wake of the Citizens United decision and Mary will be speaking about reforming Wall Street. The event will be July 22-25 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. You can see the Netroots Nation agenda here.

Senate Bank Reform Bill One Vote Short

The fate of the Wall Street reform bill is up in the air after the death of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. The bill is a single confirmed vote short of the 60 votes needed to get past a threatened filibuster by Senate Republicans. From day one, the Bankster team has supported the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and that is still one of the strongest pieces of the bill. It is a great time to send off the last emails to Senators telling them to put a new cop on the block in the form of a CFPB.

Tell Us What You Think of the Bill

We want to hear from you about what you think of the bill, and what grade you would give it if you were a kindergarten teacher grading Congress on its performance. Conceptually, the bill breaks down into three main parts.

Wall Street Reform Bill Could Be a Big Win for the Farm Belt

Everyone in America remembers the summer of 2008 when gas prices rose to over $4.00 a gallon. The puzzling price spike caused hardship for many Americans, but it had a disproportionate impact on farmers given that energy costs are one of farmers' biggest costs of doing business. A repeat of this scenario not only threatens consumer pocketbooks and farm livelihoods, but could be a serious setback to an already slow economic recovery.

That possibility just became much more remote due to some last-minute maneuvers involving the Wall Street reform bill slated to be voted on in Congress this week. The derivatives chapter of the bill specifically cracks down on the energy and food commodity speculation that elevates the cost of farming and socks it to consumers.

Derivatives Reform Suffers Midnight Mangling

The last day was a long one in the House-Senate conference committee on financial reform. The conferees had been at it since 9:00 a.m. and were rumpled and weary. Big bank lobbyists packed the conference room and trailed out into the hallways. As the clocked ticked into the wee hours, the chances for meaningful financial reform dimmed. At issue was the strong and controversial crack-down on derivatives trading authored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas).

Last Call on Financial Reform!

Today, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) was dragged into a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts). It was a pile-on to ask her to agree to weaken her strong derivatives reforms to accommodate Wall Street. Lincoln made it clear she was not pleased with the pressure. "There are some that are not as interested in being as aggressive in making sure that the possibilities of this financial crisis don’t happen again,” the Arkansas Democrat told Roll Call after the meeting. The issue of derivatives will be taken up tomorrow in the House-Senate Conference Committee which is pounding out the difference between the two bills. Will they adopt the Senate version (which covers 90% of derivatives, with a narrow exemption for legitimate end-users like municipal gas companies) or the House version (which is riddled with loopholes and covers only 60% of derivatives trading)?

Swap 'Till You Drop

As the fight on Capitol Hill for financial reform enters its final stages, it is worth asking what will be done to protect states and localities from the Wall Street con. On Thursday, the House-Senate conference committee on financial reform will take up the controversial section of the bill dealing with derivatives reform. Not a local issue right? Wrong. Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) Big Banks campaign has uncovered about 71 states and localities which have bought into dangerous derivatives and swaps deals to finance local priorities.

This information was not easy to uncover, and the total number of munis holding these little ticking time bombs is not known. For the big banks, these deals are off book and off record, and politicians of course don't like to brag about getting swindled. It is only when these deal explode and there is a huge shortfall that the public begins to be aware. Sometimes even that is not enough, and some districts are in denial about the problems posed by their investment portfolio.

Chamber's "Virtual" March on Washington: Only an Avatar Can Love a Big Bank

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched what it is calling a virtual march on Washington to oppose financial reforms being considered by Congress this week. With relatively few actual Americans willing to take their summer vacation in D.C. to march in favor of the Big Banks whose gambling broke the economy and whose practices have pillaged the financial security of working people, the Chamber has resorted to urging "avatars," or computer representations of people, to march on the virtual capital of the U.S. This so-called march seems a fitting symbol of the emptiness of the whole gambit by the Chamber. With Wall Street lobbyists swarming the capitol and Wall Street spending millions of dollars to thwart the reforms most needed and wanted by actual American people, the Chamber has had to manufacture a people's protest against the reforms, but sans real people. Apparently, they could not even enlist their buddies orchestrating the Tea Party, like former Congressman Dick Armey, or their cashroots allies in astroturf over at the Orwellian-named FreedomWorks, to cajole or even hire stand-in protesters to come to the National Mall to take up pitchforks against financial reforms. But lest all this computer gamesmanship be in vain, the Chamber is taking steps to ensure that Members of Congress know how many of the avatars are their purported constituents -- residents who love the Big Banks enough to send the very best: their idealized computer images.

Syndicate content