Category Archives: Banking & Lending Issues

Serving Wall Street Predators, GOP Launches Swift Attack on New Rule Protecting Consumers

The rule from the CFPB blocks ‘a fine-print trick that banks and predatory lenders use to evade accountability and conceal illegal behavior’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2017

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau architect Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), seen here in 2016, said the new rule from the agency “will allow working families to hold big banks accountable when they’re cheated.” (Photo: New America/flickr/cc)

A new rule by a federal watchdog—hailed as having “paramount importance” for protecting consumers from Wall Street predators and curbing corporate abuses—is under direct attack by Republicans just days after being issued.

The rule from the successful and broadly-supported Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) bans companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses, which makes consumers give up their right to file or join class-action lawsuits. In other words, it blocks “rip-off clauses” that are “a fine-print trick that banks and predatory lenders use to evade accountability and conceal illegal behavior,” as advocacy group Public Citizen put it, noting that they are also used by many corporations. Continue reading

Share

Debt Relief—Japanese-style—Could Work Here

Japan has found a way to write off its national debt without creating inflation. Why can’t we do that?

By . Published 7-3-2017 by YES! Magazine

Minatomirai 21, newly developed bayside district in Yokohama, Japan. Photo: Gleam [CC-BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s face it. The U.S. government is never going to pay back a $20 trillion federal debt. The taxpayers will just continue to pay interest on it, year after year.

A lot of interest.

If the Federal Reserve raises the Federal Funds Rate, which is the interest major banks charge each other for overnight loans, to 3.5 percent and sells its federal securities into the market, as it is proposing to do, the projected tab will be $830 billion annually by 2026. That’s nearly $1 trillion owed by the taxpayers every year, and that just covers interest. Continue reading

Share

UN Expert Touts Universal Basic Income as “Bold and Imaginative Solution’ to Poverty

“In today’s world of severe economic insecurity, creativity in social policy is necessary.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-23-2017

U.N. special rapportuer Philip Alston says a “basic income offers a bold and imaginative solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions in which the global economy appears inexorably to be heading.” (Photo: Generation Grundeinkommen/flickr/cc)

Amplifying the call for a universal basic income, a United Nations expert has presented a report describing the idea as “a bold and imaginative solution” at a time of growing economic insecurity.

“People feel exposed, vulnerable, overwhelmed, and helpless and some are being systematically marginalized both economically and socially,” Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told the Human Rights Council. “But the human rights community has barely engaged with this resulting phenomenon of deep economic insecurity,” he said. Continue reading

Share

How Much to Buy a Congressional Vote? New Research Seeks Answer

Looking at Democrats who stopped supporting banking rules, authors conclude: ‘Substantial numbers of legislators sell out the public interest in exchange for political money’

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-3-2017

Campaign finance reform advocates protest outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., 2011. (Photo: takomabibelot/cc/flickr

While it is conventional wisdom that money influences politics, researchers released a report Tuesday aiming to answer the longstanding question of exactly how much political spending it takes to sway a Congressional vote.

Fifty Shades of Green (pdf), published by the Roosevelt Institute, analyzes “the role political finance has played in securing the privileged positions of both high finance and big telecom” by examining how lawmakers evolved in supporting efforts to weaken the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and net neutrality. Continue reading

Share

In Latest Populist Betrayal, Trump Executive Order Unchains Wall Street Greed

Orders signed Friday are ‘nothing more than special favors for the same Wall Street banks that crashed our economy in 2008 and put millions of Americans out of work’

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2017

Photo: YouTube

In yet another Wall Street giveaway, President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon took executive action to chip away at Dodd-Frank financial regulations and roll back rules aimed at reducing corporate tax avoidance.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for watchdog group Public Citizen, described the orders signed Friday at the Treasury Department as “nothing more than special favors for the same Wall Street banks that crashed our economy in 2008 and put millions of Americans out of work.” Continue reading

Share

‘Payout Time’: Exxon Seeks Waiver From U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

“Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among departments who must approve: State Department, run by company’s ex-CEO”

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-19-2017

Photo: Fox News screenshot/Twitter

Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company’s Russia operations. Continue reading

Share

Borrowers ‘Chilled to the Bone’ as DOE Reneges on Student Loan Forgiveness

Young people who took low-paying, public-sector jobs with promise of loan forgiveness now ‘hosed’

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-31-2017

As first wave of qualified workers prepare to apply for loan forgiveness, they may have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them. (Photo: thisisbossi/flickr/cc)

In a troubling development for the countless people saddled with student debt, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) may be reneging on a promise made to over 550,000 such borrowers who were led to believe that their loans would be forgiven after ten years of work in the public service.

Responding to an ongoing lawsuit from four borrowers, the DOE has given no explanation but says that approval letters sent to individuals who signed up for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program are not in fact “binding,” the New York Times reported Thursday. Continue reading

Share

Lawmakers Feel the Heat as Resistance Shows Up in Droves to Town Halls

Overflow crowds and tough questions marked Saturday’s Congressional recess events around the country

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2017

“This is what the resistance looks like,” Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan wrote Saturday on Twitter. (Photo: Rep. Mark Pocan/Twitter)

Energized crowds in New York, South Carolina, and Wisconsin on Saturday morning gave lawmakers a hint of what awaits them in their home districts during the upcoming Congressional recess.

The Buffalo News reported that “[h]uge crowds of raucous progressives and quieter conservatives overwhelmed [Republican] Rep. Tom Reed’s town hall meetings in Ashville and Cherry Creek Saturday morning, with the progressives repeatedly interrupting and shouting down the congressman’s comments as he tried to defend Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”

In Ashville, N.Y., so many people showed up that the meeting had to be moved outside to a parking lot.  Continue reading

Share

Why whistleblowers are essential to democracy

In a functioning democracy, it is absolutely crucial for power to be held to account. For this we need whistleblowers.

By Rebecca Sentance. Published 2-3-2017 by openDemocracy

Free Chelsea Manning.Grafitti in Vienna, Austria, 2014. Wikicommons/smuconlaw.

On January 17, 2017, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence was commuted to seven years from her date of arrest, in one of President Obama’s last acts before leaving office. At the time of her commutation, Private Manning had spent more time behind bars than any other person in US history who had disclosed information considered to be in the public interest.

The information leaked by Chelsea Manning – videos, diplomatic cables and reports relating to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan – exposed corruption and human rights abuses, and is widely regarded to have been a catalyst for the Arab Spring that began in December 2010. Continue reading

Share

Elizabeth Warren To Democrats: Only an ‘Opposition Party’ Can Defeat Trump

Crisis didn’t just begin with Trump, says Massachusetts senator, “because for years and years and years, Washington has worked just great for the rich and the powerful, but far too often, it hasn’t worked for anyone else”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-4-2017

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s speech at the 2017 Progressive Congress Strategy Summit in Baltimore on February 4, 2017. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Speaking to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Saturday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) delivered a searing critique by telling her fellow Democrats that the party should not let themselves “off the hook” when it comes to explaining horrific reality of President Donald J. Trump.

In order to defeat Trump and take on the Republicans, she said, Democrats can no longer play it safe or cozy up to powerful interests at the expense of everyday concerns and the needs of working people.

“Our moment of crisis didn’t begin with the election of Donald Trump,” Warren told CPC members gathered at their annual retreat in Baltimore, Maryland. “We were already in crisis. We were already in crisis because for years and years and years, Washington has worked just great for the rich and the powerful, but far too often, it hasn’t worked for anyone else.” Continue reading

Share