At the kiddie table debate last night Chris Christie took the first opportunity he got to attack Dodd-Frank, the legislation passed to protect consumers from banksters and other financial sector crooks.
That ad above, which debuted last night at the very first commercial break (and then ran again), part of a 4-week, $500,000 buy from the the shady American Action Network-- an extreme right-wing group founded by Nixon's Jew counter, Fred Malek-- is meant to stir up fear and emotions by lying about one of Wall Street's biggest bugaboos, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, along with right-wing Democrats on the committee who work for Wall Street-- like Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), John Delaney (New Dem-DE), Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY), David Scott (New Dem-GA) and Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)-- have been busy little bees working to chip away at Dodd-Frank protections, especially those that are part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The American Action Network ad smearing the CFPB elicited a message from Elizabeth Warren to her supporters. "I’m not surprised," she wrote, "that the big banks and Republicans are attacking me or the CFPB. After all, in just four years, the brand-new consumer agency has already forced the biggest financial companies to return more than $11 billion directly to the people they cheated. And even on Wall Street, $11 billion is real money. But I am surprised by just how bold and shameless these new attacks are."
Wall Street has a problem: they know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working and that it’s incredibly popular with the families it helps. So the big banks are smart: $30,000 for a TV ad is nothing compared to the money they can save if their Republican buddies will go after the agency. And if they can soften up support for the CFPB, the Republicans will feel a little bit safer when they try to undercut the agency and rollback financial oversight during closed-door deals. I’m a big girl, and I can take the personal attacks. But working families who need the CFPB can’t-- not when they’ve been crushed, squeezed and hammered by the big banks and their friends in Washington for years. It’s up to us to fight back.
Progressive Democrat Lou Vince is running for the House seat in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley (CA-25) currently occupied by extremist anti-regulation fanatic Steve Knight, a devoted enemy to all rules and regulations that protect ordinary citizens from powerful business forces. "Republicans," Lou told us during the debate, "consistently show how they would rather side with Wall Street bankers that gamble with our money, rather than stand up for hard-working Americans. Congressman Steve Knight is no exception. He has voted for dismantling Dodd-Frank, the only thing protecting Americans from Wall Street fat cats. He has voted against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren who stands up for the middle class against corporations who try to take advantage of American consumers. Rather than be another corporate shill like Congressman Knight, I want to go to DC and stand up to Wall Street and fight for ordinary Americans who want the system to be fair for everyone, not designed to make the top 1% even richer at the expense of everyone else."
Carol Shea-Porter is likely to win back her old seat in New Hampshire, currently held by crackpot extremist Frank Guinta. Unlike Guinta, she understands the importance of protecting families from the immense power of corporations and banksters. "I'm proud," she told us right after the debate, "that I voted for Dodd-Frank and the CFPB. The CFPB has helped millions of consumers resolve complaints concerning loans, credit cards, mortgages, etc. It exists to protect consumers and their money, which is why my opponent and his donors hate it and try to destroy it. In Congress, I fought to protect the CFPB, and I will continue to do that when I win next November."
Ruben Kihuen has been a strong progressive leader in the Nevada state legislature running for a blue-leaning seat held by anti-regulations extremist Cresent Hardy. He's the perfect antidote to bankster-allied conservatives like Hardy. He told us during the debate that "Congress is a club of the wealthy and elite and members like Rep. Cresent Hardy continue to vote to protect big corporations and special interests instead of hard working Americans. The latest attacks on Dodd-Frank and the CFPB is just another example of reckless Republicans protecting the corporations that elect them instead of their constituents. I am running for Congress to give a voice to working class families and fight to stop Wall Street's predatory practices."
Rod Blum is a multimillionaire shill of Wall Street sitting in a blue-leaning Iowa district. Former Iowa House Speaker, Pat Murphy, a strong and successful progressive disagrees with Blum's attempts to wreck Dodd-Frank. "This is the problem with Congressman Blum," he said during the debate. "He is voting to weaken Dodd-Frank and CFPB, weakening consumers against the big banks. We should be strengthening consumer laws by reinstating Glass-Stegall to avoid these crisises. Instead we are going to leave the foxes in charge of the chicken coop and Congress Blum is opening the door and saying 'enjoy lunch on me.'"
The most recent Blue America endorsee, Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (NY-02), is taking on arch deregulator and Wall Street pawn Peter King. He told us that "The attempt by the Republicans to rollback Dodd-Frank has created significant risk for the taxpayers who have already picked up the tab for banks that are too big to fail. While my opponent has voted against the interests of the victims of the financial crisis, I will work to protect taxpayers and hold Wall Street accountable. I commend Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings for their leadership on this issue."
Paul Clements is the progressive Democrat running against crooked crony-capitalist Fred Upton in southwest Michigan. Upton has voted against every regulation that protects consumers, families and the environment. Upton's ideas are throwbacks to the 19th Century. Clements pointed out that "It's the big banks, big corporations, and the super-rich who have armies of lawyers and lobbyists and who make mega-campaign contributions. They were busy tilting the economic playing field in their direction for decades, before they crashed the economy in 2008. Dodd-Frank and the CFPB don’t go far enough to protect citizens and consumers-- we shouldn’t have banks too big to fail, and we need to get the big money out of politics-- but they are a start. Nevertheless, they were too much for Congressman Upton. Maybe if you are born into millions, consumer protection doesn’t seem so important. His votes against Dodd-Frank and to dismantle the CFPB fit with his general alliance with corporations and the super-rich over ordinary citizens. I would support them, and in Congress I will stand up for consumers’ rights and interests. We won’t get a level playing field unless someone does."
One of America's best investigative journalists, Lee Fang, writing for The Intercept yesterday noted that lobbyists are using ads during the debate to smear regulatory agencies investigating the crooked corporations writing their paychecks.
The advertisement portrays the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a roomful of bureacratic automatons mercilessly stamping “DENIED” on loan applications, beneath Soviet-style banners depicting CFPB’s director, Richard Cordray, and its principal architect, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.). But the ad does not disclose that the group sponsoring it is led by lobbyists for Navient, a student loan company that the CFPB is currently investigating for allegedly cheating student loan borrowers. The American Action Network, the sponsor of the advertisement, is led by a team of lobbyists employed to beat back consumer protection regulations on behalf of industry clients. American Action Network board member Vin Weber is a lobbyist at Mercury LLC, where he is registered to work as a Navient lobbyist. On his registration forms, Weber says he specifically works on matters related to the CFPB.
Weber’s colleague on the board, Tom Reynolds, is also a registered lobbyist for Navient through the law firm Nixon Peabody. And another American Action Network board member, Barry Jackson, works with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck, a lobbying firm that serves a number of student loan and payday lending firms on issues relating to the CFPB.
Navient processes federal student loans and works to collect on student debt. Formerly known as Sallie Mae, Navient spun off as a separate company in 2014. The company says it is responsible for managing $300 billion in student loans. In August, Navient informed investors that the CFPB, after a multi-year investigation of the firm, had found evidence that Navient is in violation of consumer protection laws and may soon face a lawsuit from the agency. Separate investigations have faulted Navient for ;misleading borrowers on a range of issues while seeking to maximize penalties and late fees.
If you'd like to help House candidates who have pledged to protect consumers and the middle class from the banksters and other financial predators, you can do that right here.