One of the points Occupy Wall Street made, by choosing to occupy space in Manhattan and not in DC, was that it's really Wall Street who runs things, not the government.
The votes in the House Financial Services Committee today underscore that point with stark clarity.
Today the Committee considered a slew of bills that tear down many of the Wall Street reforms passed in 2010. These reforms were already imperfect, as Wall Street sent the full force of its lobbying to the Hill in 2010 to compromise these reforms as much as possible.
Wall Street, having succeeded in 2010 in watering down the reforms meant to regulate them two years after they ruined the economy, did not rest. They have been lobbying nonstop since then to do everything they could to gut these reforms even more.
Today, nine deregulatory bills were considered, and nine were passed. The most egregious, HR 992, which we wrote about on Monday, passed 53-6. This bill is named "Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act", but it should be called, "If Banks Get Bailed Out, We'll Get Sold Out. Again." This is the bill that makes the cost of doing business for Wall Street lower by exploiting the implicit backing of the Federal Government. It allows banks to hold risky derivatives in the insured depository--that part of the bank that is insured by the FDIC. As we wrote yesterday, this is dangerous because derivatives are senior in bankruptcy--derivatives counterparties get paid out first.
Only six members of Congress, out of sixty-one total committee members, decided that this risk was too much. That Wall Street has won enough fights. Six out of sixty-one. The only six who dared to not roll over for Wall Street are: Rep Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) (D-CA), Rep Keith Ellison (@keithellison) (D-MN), Rep Steven Lynch (@RepStephenLynch) (D-MA), Rep Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) (D-NY), Rep Mike Capuano (@mikecapuano) (D-MA), and Rep Al Green (@RepAlGreen) (D-TX).
Those six were decidedly in the minority. Fifty-three members of Congress decided that, no, we really ought to make life even easier for the megabanks. The megabanks have it so hard, after all, right?
The banks have laundered money for drug cartels. They have deliberately lied to regulators. They have lied to Congress. They have illegally foreclosed on homes and then had their captured regulator give wronged parties a slap-in-the-face settlement of $300. They have manipulated global interest rates. They have sold predatory loans disproportionately to people of color . They have been bailed out. And they will not lay low.
Fifty-three members of the Financial Services Committee today decided that all this malfeasance, corruption and criminal activity is not only fine, but it should be rewarded. We should make life even easier for them. We should lower their cost of doing business on the backs of the US taxpayer. Only six decided that no, enough is enough.
It is the same old song in Congress. Wall Street owns them, and no amount of disgrace, shame, corruption and crime will deter the fifty-three members of this Committee from pledging allegiance to Wall Street.
Here is the complete list of the Financial Services Committee members. The official twitter for the Republicans on the Committee is @FinancialCmte, and the twitter for the Democrats is @FSCDems. Wall Street still runs things, but it is worth letting our captured Congressmembers know that we are fully aware that Wall Street also owns them.