A key vote was scheduled for Monday on financial reform legislation. With anger boiling over at Wall Street, the stage was set for the Senate to formally begin consideration of legislation to reregulate the industry that plunged the country into recession in 2008. Meanwhile, as the country marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on Thursday, Senate leaders labored to find consensus on how to address global warming.
Financial Reform As the Senate took up an overhaul of financial industry regulation, Sanders pressed for a cap on credit card interest rates, an end to Federal Reserve secrecy, the dismantling of financial institutions considered too big to fail and major reforms in the way Wall Street does business to encourage small business and job growth instead of gambling on esoteric financial instruments. To read an overview by The Nation's John Nichols, click here. To see a Brattleboro Reformer editorial on reining in the banks, click here.
Big Bank Breakup The Senate Budget Committee considered a Sanders proposal regarding the dismantling of huge financial institutions. Sanders said the four major U.S. banks - Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Well Fargo - issue two-thirds of the credit cards in the country, write half the mortgages and collectively hold $7.4 trillion in assets, about 52 percent of the nation's estimated total output last year. The narrow 12-to-10 vote against the amendment showed, according to The Huffington Post, "that the idea is picking up real support in the chamber." Said Sanders: "While we didn't quite win the vote, we took a major step forward in showing there is a great deal of support for breaking up huge financial institutions. We must break up these behemoths not only because they are a burden on taxpayers but because of the incredible economic power they exert on the economy through their monopolistic practices. The enormous concentration of ownership in the financial sector has led to higher bank fees, usurious interest rates on credit cards, and fewer choices for consumers." To listen to the debate and vote in the committee, click here.
Corporate Taxes With the national debt approaching $13 trillion and a record-breaking federal deficit, the Senate budget committee on Thursday approved an amendment that tells Exxon Mobil, Bank of America and other large, profitable corporations that paid no federal income taxes last year that it is time for them to start paying their fair share. The amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders would enact a windfall profits tax on large corporations that pay no federal income taxes. There are many of them. One out of every four large corporations in the United States paid no federal income taxes in 2005 on revenue of $1.1 trillion, the Government Accountability Office reported. To watch the senator at the budget committee hearing, click here.
Ratings Agencies A Senate report Thursday said the agencies that rate investments deserve some of the blame for the financial meltdown. Executives from Moody's and Standard & Poor's were called to testify on Capitol Hill Friday. "The credit rating agencies failed completely," Sen. Bernie Sanders told CBS News. "The truth is they are working for Wall Street and they`re going to give Wall Street what Wall Street wants." To see the report online, click here.
Earth Day "There is no serious dispute within the scientific community and in peer-reviewed journals that global warming is real and that it is significantly caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Virtually the only people who disagree with this conclusion are representatives of the oil and coal companies, their apologists in the media and those on Capitol Hill who are stubborn defenders of their big polluter patrons." Sanders wrote in a column posted by the widely-respected environmental website Grist on Thursday's 40th anniversary of Earth Day. LINK