In a post a few days back, I observed that the big Wall Street banks were in for a fall because they had become so arrogant in their power and wealth. One example of this is on the swipe fee issue, where their over-the-top market manipulation and hyper-aggressive political tactics are ticking off not just old progressive populists like me, but a lot of the rest of the business community. Small retailers, grocers, restaurant owners, gas station owners, and cabbies have become incensed the way these banks and their credit card companies charge exorbitant swipe fees and will not negotiate on the matter. I have started working with retail business groups on this issue simply because I’d much rather see these Main Street business folks get more of the $48 billion going out the door in swipe fees than the big banks that control more than 80 percent of the market. This issue is likely to come up for a vote within days in the Senate, so raise some hell.
2 documents found in 0.001 seconds.
The great battles of this turbulent era will keep going on for years to come. The ideologues who want no check whatsoever on the power of big business have declared war on the middle class, and want no one to get in their way. Governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich will brook no compromise in trying to destroy unions. Right-wing politicians who have long wanted to do away with Social Security and Medicare and pretty much all safety nets for the poor are getting more and more brazen: Speaker Boehner made clear last week his plans to go after Social Security and Medicare sooner rather than later. And it is not just economics: the extremists are coming after not just a woman's right to choose, but even birth control itself with their attempts to shut down family planning funding.
The good news is that, as I wrote in The Washington Post this weekend, these attacks on the things we hold dear are putting the "movement" back in the labor movement (and the women's movement, and the progressive movement). We are going to march and demonstrate, we are going to recall Wisconsin legislators and, once a year has passed, the Governor. We will win a citizen's veto ballot initiative fight in Ohio. And we will take on the ultimate patrons of conservative politicians, the billionaire extremists like the Koch brothers and the Wall Street bankers who are providing the money and pulling the strings for this attack on the middle class.
Getting less attention than the open warfare in Wisconsin and other states, one of the most important fronts in the fight for a better economy and a stronger, rather than decimated, middle class is to keep challenging the banks. This past weekend, National People's Action has been in D.C. taking on Wall Street because the big banks’ corrupt and broken business model is at the heart of what has brought our economy to its knees, and until it gets fixed, the economy won't be fixed either. You would think these bankers — whose fraud and speculation inflated the housing bubble and then crashed our economy, who came to the American taxpayers for a bailout when they got themselves in trouble and then arrogantly rewarded themselves record bonuses while attacking any kind of regulatory reform — would at least pretend to be a little humble right now. Absolutely not. Wall Street billionaires like Pete Peterson are braying about the need for senior citizens to tighten their belts because the $14,000 the average retiree gets from Social Security is just a little too extravagant. Wall Street money is backing Republican efforts to slash Head Start and education funds, and to break the unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states. These are the guys who broke the economy, but they don't want anyone to think about that, so they are pumping money into blaming teachers, cops, and firefighters for the fiscal problems of the states and federal government.
Meanwhile, when someone does try to regulate the Wall Street guys just a little, the big bank lobby loses it entirely, whines to high heaven, and begins spending money all over the place. Elizabeth Warren is under daily attack by the bankers in her very reasonable, thoughtful efforts to look out for consumers on financial issues, and the Wall Street boys' mouthpiece in the Senate, Dick Shelby, is threatening a holy war with the White House if she is nominated to run the agency. Whether the White House caves to Shelby and Wall Street's pressure will be one of the biggest signals going forward of how strong they will be in terms of taking on the big banks.
The big bank lobby also is gearing up a massively funded campaign on the swipe-fee issue, and this to me is a very telling story of just how much power Wall Street has in Washington, D.C.