Elizabeth Warren visited the set of Real Time again and and talked to Bill Maher about why we still don't have our financial system reformed yet and t
February 22, 2010

Elizabeth Warren visited the set of Real Time again and and talked to Bill Maher about why we still don't have our financial system reformed yet and the power of the bank lobbyists in Congress.

Warren: The problems could not be more obvious and quite frankly the solutions are just as about that obvious, but we can’t seem to get the two together.


The reason that we aren’t changing things right now is the banks have lobbyists in numbers I’ve never seen. They’re coming, not just you know once a month, once a week or even once a day. These guys are coming in two and three and four times a day. They’re making phone calls. They’ve got the position papers and they just keep slamming in the same direction over and over and over and over, and people who just want to advocate for American families—people who want some changes who want to level the playing field—they just don’t have that kind of lobbying power.

And so what we’re really watching here is a David and Goliath story of just monumental proportions.

As Maher and Warren pointed out, very little has been fixed even there is a set of new rules for credit cards taking affect this week.

Maher: It seems like that is what our economy is. It’s still as risky as it was before. We’re still sliding down the mountain on a sheet of ice.

Warren: That’s exactly right. In fact when this crisis started in October of 2008 Sec. Paulson the problem is there’s too much concentration in the banking industry—meaning a handful of big banks that hold too much. What’s happened is the banking industry has gotten more concentrated. He said we’re worried about too much toxic assets on the books at the banks and in fact we still have toxic assets on the books at the banks. We are worried about the financial products that are sold to consumers—the credit cards, the mortgages that are sold on a kind of tricks and traps basis. And that’s still happening every single day.

Credit cards alone cost American families last $120 billion in penalty fees, fees, interest…

Maher: Right. That’s not the stuff they bought. That’s just what…

Warren: That’s the interest…

Maher: Right.

Warren: Fifty million American families…

Maher: Okay, but wasn’t there a bill that was passed last year, a credit card bill…

Warren: Yes.

Maher: When does that go into affect?

Warren: It goes into affect Monday.

Maher: Monday?

Warren: Monday and…

Maher: That’s why you’re here. I knew there was something immediate we wanted to talk to you about.

Warren: So it goes into affect Monday… and look what it did is it outlawed basically ten bad practices. The problem with the approach—and I’m glad they outlawed them—they were really lousy terrible practices—things like double-cycle billing; you don’t want to know, universal defaults, certain things you weren’t going to be able to do. Raising interest rates hair trigger—you’re one hour late—they stopped this.

Sadly as Warren noted the banks have already found a way to get around eight of ten of those reforms. Bill needed a hug from talking about all of this. I'd prefer the politicians being more worried about keeping their jobs if the public finally has had enough of them than serving these masters of the universe and their lobbyists for once.

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