Thursday, September 09, 2010

IT’S about CONSUMERS & FAMILIES, STUPID!!!!

IT’S about CONSUMERS & FAMILIES, STUPID!!!!

By Kevin Stoda

Too much focus in recent has been on the so-called theme of “it’s the economy, stupid”

So, I believe that Elizabeth Warren, who should soon be appointed the head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is (nearly) 100% correct when she reminds us and the electronic media that, in fact, what REALY matters in America—is --IT’S THE FAMILY, STUPID!

In short, Warren has stated unequivocally that ALL IMPORTANT meetings on how business regulations, government plans, and policies are to be created, structured, and implemented in the good-old-USA need to have this question raised in their midst.

“How does this X affect American families?”

Note: X can stand for policy, regulation, maneuver, practice, trend, project, law, or business activity.

By the way, Elizabeth Warren is one of the best candidates to see that the new consumer agency has teeth.

Amy Goodman has noted, “The [new Consumer Financial Protection] Bureau’s director will be the most powerful new banking regulator in decades and the first with the exclusive mission of focusing on consumers. She [Elizabeth Warren] chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel over the bank bailout and is an outspoken consumer advocate.” The BAD BIG BANKS of America need a tough regulator working on behalf of family of families. Just consider how many American’s are out of work or out of homes due to BAD BIG BANKS that have not apologized to America’s families for continuing to screw them while accepting massive federal bail-outs over the past 3 years.

With the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, has it right. The focus I American business policy should be on FAMILIES. Warren said earlier this summer, “[W]e have an opportunity now to pick up the tools that were laid out in this new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And, look, unused tools don’t do anyone any good. The point is to pick them up and use them. And it’s going to be tough. The era of my grandmother in the Great Depression, it was tough then. Remember, Franklin Roosevelt faced his economic royalists. Remember, it took him years to get his entire economic package into place. It paid off. It was tough, but it paid off.”

AMERICANS NEED NO MORE STICKUPS FROM BANKS

The sad news is that AMERICA’S BIGGEST and MOST DANGEROUS BANKS (and some Obama appointees) are fighting like mad to make sure Elizabeth Warren is not put in place as head regulator, and they have been working diligently already to undermine the new Consumer Financial Bureau. Here is an excerpt from an Amy Goodman interview with Robert Sheer. Sheer is asked to comment on Elizabeth Warren’s efforts on behalf of consumers and families over the past two decades—i.e. while most of the federal government had its head in the sand.
AMY GOODMAN: Were going to play an excerpt of Elizabeth Warren’s speech that she gave recently at Netroots Nation next. But what about Elizabeth Warren, seen as the frontrunner for this job, but seen as a [sort of unwanted outsider by many White House appointees, so]—there’s a quiet campaign in the White House, or perhaps not so quiet, among people like Rahm Emanuel, who supposedly, rumor has it, are opposing her?
ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah, well, look, come on. You can’t look to the Democratic Party, you know, hacks, for leadership on this. First of all, most of these people are veterans of the Clinton administration. They’re the same people who destroyed Brooksley Born. Brooksley Born was one of the most competent lawyers in this country, dealing—she represented banks. She understood more about these derivatives than anyone around, actually, when she was appointed to what was supposed to be a lesser agenc, you know, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And she spotted this problem. You know, seventeen times in testimony before congressional committees, Brooksley Born sounded the alarm that there was going to be a housing meltdown, that this thing had gone wild, that we had enabled Wall Street graft. She knew the inside outside. It was people like Summers, who’s now in this administration, I think, who don’t want Elizabeth Warren—Timothy Geithner, and there are plenty of others. There are many Goldman Sachs veterans and other big Wall Street veterans in this administration, as well. And they destroyed Brooksley Born. And they’re threatened by Elizabeth Warren, because Elizabeth Warren represents consumers. She’s a brilliant legal mind, and just as Brooksley Born is. And Elizabeth Warren said, "Wait a minute. You know, what kind of, you know, government is this, when you’re caring about Wall Street and you’re ignoring the pain out there?"
And I have to stress this, Amy. This is not some abstract—you know, I studied economics in graduate school, and I could do some mathematical modeling and all that stuff. This is not a game. It’s not a political game. It’s not a mathematics game. They’re real human beings who invest their whole life putting shelter over their family, caring about their family. And when you go out in these communities—and I’ve done some of that—you know, it’s so depressing. You know, I mean, I talked to people in Riverside who cleaned office buildings, you know, in Long Beach and commuted to Riverside so their kids could live in a better neighborhood. And they bought this house, and they made the payments. They made the payments. They did everything they were supposed to do. And the neighborhood went into the toilet, and they lose everything. They lose everything. And that story is repeated millions of times in America.
And the guys who did it to us, they weren’t those vicious right-wingers. And, you know, it wasn’t all the people that we liberals like to attack. It was our friends. Let’s get that straight, you know? When I call this the Clinton bubble, you know, I mean it very seriously. It was our friends. It was people, you know, like the heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who claim to be liberal Democrats. But they were being rewarded with enormous bonuses. You know, enormous bonuses. They made out just as well as the people running Citigroup. These were not government agencies. These were actually traded on the stock market, but posing as government-supported agencies. And the fact of the matter is that the damage that was done to us was done by people who talk a very good game. You know, Robert Rubin contributed money to the Harlem dance group, you know? Jesse Jackson even supported the reversal of Glass-Steagall. There’s a whole chapter in my book, you know? The people who acted in a very bad way, in this book, were people who we would probably be more comfortable talking to, you know, over a drink somewhere than the others. So, you know, my book, you know, it’s called "How Reagan Democrats—Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street and Mugged Main Street." And the Clinton Democrats, who now control the Obama administration, are—you know, this is turning the henhouse over to the foxes. And I would say the record of Obama on this has been abysmal. He has been a frontman for Wall Street, and it is shocking.
Robert Sheer, by the way, is the author of THE GREAT AMERICAN STICKUP. You can see and read his whole interview at:

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/7/robert_scheer_on__the_great

You can see and read a speech by Elizabeth Warren at:

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/7/elizabeth_warren_says_consumer_financial_protection

NOTES

Here is the first part of that short lecture before the Netroots Nation conference. In Las Vegas this summer.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I thought of four things that we should think about as we begin to build a new bureau. The first one is: It must stand for families. We’ve had long enough where there’s been no one to stand for families. Now, what does that mean? It means, in part, in the case of the credit agreements that we’ve been talking about, a level playing field again. It means that there’s someone there to make sure that both families and lenders understand the terms of the credit agreement; that it is as obvious to one side as the other; that when they come together, they get what this transaction is, the cost; that we create competitive markets so that the products are products that not only are priced so that consumers can understand them, but they’re priced well in the marketplace.
But it also means something else to stand on behalf of families. When folks—when powerful people get together in our government, and they start to divide up where things are going to go, when they start to make decisions about who’s going to be helped and who’s not going to be helped, there needs to be at least one person in the room who asks the question, how will this affect America’s families? Not just how will it affect America’s banks, not just how will it affect America’s businesses, but how will it affect America’s families? One of the things this bureau can do is be there on behalf of American families.
Now, the second thing that I think is really critical about this agency is it must be reality-based. It’s not good enough to have a great theory. And frankly, it’s not good enough to have just a good heart. It’s got to be grounded in how things really work on the ground. And I’m going to give you an example of that. Small banks. If the consequence of this agency is to put in enough new bureaucratic obligations that it crushes community banks, then the agency will not have been successful. If the community banks are driven out of business, that creates more concentration in the banking industry. The big get bigger, and the small go away. But it also means there are fewer of those banks around to lend to the small businesses that we’re counting on to restart this economy. And it means that families themselves have fewer choices between small banks and big banks. And that’s a choice we’ve got to preserve. So, ultimately, what this agency has to be about is, yes, the first one on the side of the families, but second, the side of creating workable, realistic markets, sustainable markets, over time—markets that work for consumers, but that also create a viable functioning credit system. It’s got to be part of what goes into this.
Third part is the agency—the bureau. The bureau has to be able to grow and change. You know, part of what went wrong in the 1930s was that we didn’t keep the rules up to date. The world changed around it. The markets changed around it. How families behaved changed around it. But the rules were not changing. They were not vital. And so, what this agency—what we have to think about when you’re building in at the beginning is, how do you build change? How do you build some creative destruction into the agency itself? You know, I come from the world of bankruptcy. It’s what I teach. Bankruptcy is littered with the businesses that didn’t adapt to the world. Government doesn’t have that same discipline in it. And so, part of building this agency is building in how it will change and adapt over time, that it has the right structure to do that.
And then the last part I want to mention is part of why I’m here today. This will be the first agency we have built in a wired world. Think about that for just one minute. The relationship between government agencies, between bureaucracy, between the government and its people, at the time we built all of the earlier agencies, was one of—the government labors relative obscurity, and you send out some information, and people get it through their newspapers or watching television or radio or whatever they listen to. This is an agency that will be the first to be born digital. It will be an agency that can send from—it will have the capacity to communicate with millions of Americans by just hitting a send button. It will also be an agency where millions of Americans have the capacity to communicate with the agency by hitting a send button. And the possibilities here are endless. The notion that part of how one comes to understand and define the problems in the credit area will change if we hear—if this agency hears, if this bureau hears from people who are experiencing it. This is part of its—it can be built into the research function of the agency. If the agency can hear from people and communicate with people, it changes the concept of how regulations work, of how regulations are tested, of how regulations are communicated and how they are enforced. So, I think of this as a real opportunity as we build this agency, not to replicate what was built last time, when we had a consumer agency in the 1970s, but to try a whole new model, to think about this agency from a different perspective.

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