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Big Banks Were Meant to Gain From Bipartisan Deregulation Bill All Along, Senate Letter Reveals

UNITED STATES - MAY 8: Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during a press conference about Congress' current work pace, government funding, and the confirmation backlog on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

BIG BANKS WERE MEANT TO GAIN FROM BIPARTISAN DEREGULATION BILL ALL ALONG, SENATE LETTER REVEALS

DEMOCRATS WHO COLLABORATED on the bank deregulation lawpassed earlier this year have categorically insisted that it only benefits small community banks and credit unions.

Take Sean Patrick Maloney, a House Democrat who is simultaneously running for both re-election and New York attorney general — the so-called Sheriff of Wall Street position. He was asked recently on a local radio show about his yes vote.

“If you look at the African-American Credit Union Association and the African-American small bankers, they are the guys who benefited from easing some of the restrictions,” Maloney said, using lenders of color as a shield for his vote. Maloney maintained that the legislation “didn’t touch any of the important restrictions we put on the big banks.” It’s been his go-to refrain each time he’s been pressed on the Dodd-Frank rollback, echoing a chorus of lawmakers singing songs of sincere deregulatory innocence.

But a letter sent by seven Senate Republicans last week suggests that the law is trying to do precisely what its critics warned: provide regulatory relief for some of the largest banks in the country.

The letter, headlined by Senate Banking Committee member David Perdue, R-Ga., is a classic Washington document, “signed” by members of Congress but transparently prepared by lobbying groups looking to add congressional backing for their priorities. While the bill’s author, Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, isn’t on the letter, that’s likely because it would be messy to have the senator who promised Democrats in negotiations that big banks wouldn’t benefit from the legislation turn around and assist the lobbying efforts of those very institutions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America First is a Joke. Wall Street Wins Again

America First is a Joke. Wall Street Wins Again

I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but Wall Street owns the U.S. economy and until that’s dealt with, the American public will continue to be preyed upon voraciously and lawlessly by some of the most unethical parasites the world has ever seen. Obama was a historical disaster on this issue, coddling and protecting banker oligarchs every step of the way. Trump’s no different.

The latest evidence that things are getting even worse came last evening when the U.S. Senate voted to deliver Wall Street another gift on a silver platter.

Rather than summarize what happened, let’s turn to two of the best resources on such topics, journalist David Dayen and finance focused website Wall Street on Parade.

First, here are a few excerpts from David’s latest article published at The InterceptAfter Day of Feuding, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker Join Trump to Upend a Major Consumer Protection:

With national attention focused Tuesday morning on a mushrooming feud between President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., followed by a feud in the afternoon between Trump and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., the Senate gift-wrapped the biggest present Congress has so far bestowed upon Wall Street in the Trump era.

With a razor-thin margin, the Senate passed a resolution to nullify a signature regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which banned forced arbitration provisions. Such clauses, tucked into the fine print of contracts that nobody reads, deny consumers the ability to contest claims through a class-action lawsuit, and can allow banks and other financial institutions to rip off their customers with virtual impunity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Puerto Rico Debt Holders Respond to Catastrophic Hurricane by Offering Puerto Rico More Debt

HAYALES DE COAMO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Telesforo Menendez surveys the damage in his neighborhood September 24, 2017 in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

PUERTO RICO, FACING absolute devastation after Hurricane Maria barreled through last week, desperately needs immediate funding to restore critical infrastructure, particularly its hobbled electric grid. The entire island — home to over 3.5 million American citizens, roughly equivalent to the state of Connecticut — lost power, and satellite imagery shows how little electricity has come back. This affects not only electricity and telecommunications service but access to clean water, as many pumping stations run on the same grid.

A group of bondholders, who own a portion of Puerto Rico’s massive $72 billion debt, has proposed what they are calling relief — but in the form of a loan. So they’re offering a territory mired in debt the chance to take on more debt.

The announcement came after The Intercept spent two days reaching out to 51 of Puerto Rico’s known creditors, asking them if they would support a moratorium or cancellation of debt payments for the island, given the humanitarian crisis. Prior to this announcement, only three of the 51 creditors had so much as donated relief funds to charity or offered sympathy for island residents, all of them banks who actually have to face consumers, and so are a bit more adept at handling public relations. No creditor had supported debt relief.

Of the 51 creditors contacted by The Intercept, only Citibank, Goldman Sachs, and Scotiabank have pledged no-strings-attached money for Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands, in the form of donations to relief organizations totaling $1.25 million. Citi has also waived certain fees for citizens within disaster zones.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Think Tank Emails Show “How Google Wields its Power” in Washington

BARRY LYNN, THE critic of monopolies fired this week from the New America Foundation, insisted in emails to his superiors that pressure from Google got him and his Open Markets program terminated. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the think tank’s CEO,  has denied that Google played any role in Lynn’s termination from the think tank.

Last night, New America released three emails from Slaughter to Lynn. They reference two separate events: an anti-monopoly conference organized by the Open Markets program in June 2016 that featured Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as the keynote speaker, and a series of communications in June and July 2017, involving the termination of Lynn and his group.

The emails New America released did not include Lynn’s side of the email. The Intercept obtained his responses.

The first set of emails concerned the June 2016 conference, notable because a politician of Warren’s stature made a full-throated endorsement of Lynn’s work. For 15 years, Lynn has pointed out the dangers of increasing concentration in practically every sector of the U.S. economy, including technology and internet companies.

Slaughter began the chain by asking Lynn to answer questions — which were not in the emails obtained by The Intercept — from Meredith Hanley, New America’s director of development, who is responsible for day-to-day fundraising. Slaughter mentioned that she would be meeting with Google’s top lobbyist, former Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., and she needed answers about why Lynn’s New America colleagues and Google weren’t alerted about the conference and Warren’s participation.

Google, and the family foundation of Eric Schmidt, executive chair of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have donated $21 million to New America over the years.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Android Administration: Google’s Remarkably Close Relationship With the Obama White House, in Two Charts

Illustration by The Intercept. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

THE ANDROID ADMINISTRATION

Google’s Remarkably Close Relationship With the Obama White House, in Two Charts

WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA announced his support last week for a Federal Communications Commission plan to open the market for cable set-top boxes — a big win for consumers, but also for Google — the cable and telecommunications giants who used to have a near-stranglehold on tech policy were furious. AT&T chief lobbyist Jim Cicconi lashed out at what he called White House intervention on behalf of “the Google proposal.”

He’s hardly the first to suggest that the Obama administration has become too close to the Silicon Valley juggernaut.

Over the past seven years, Google has created a remarkable partnership with the Obama White House, providing expertise, services, advice, and personnel for vital government projects.

Precisely how much influence this buys Google isn’t always clear. But consider that over in the European Union, Google is now facing two major antitrust charges for abusing its dominance in mobile operating systems and search. By contrast, in the U.S., a strong case to sanction Google was quashed by a presidentially appointed commission.

It’s a relationship that bears watching. “Americans know surprisingly little about what Google wants and gets from our government,” said Anne Weismann, executive director of Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog organization. Seeking to change that, Weismann’s group is spearheading a data transparency project about Google’s interactions in Washington.

The Intercept teamed up with Campaign for Accountability to present two revealing data sets from that forthcoming project: one on the number of White House meetings attended by Google representatives, and the second on the revolving door between Google and the government.

As the interactive charts accompanying this article show, Google representatives attended White House meetings more than once a week, on average, from the beginning of Obama’s presidency through October 2015. Nearly 250 people have shuttled from government service to Google employment or vice versa over the course of his administration.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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