It’s time to end the financial affair between Congress, K Street and Wall Street.
Right now we have an opportunity to add our voices to the chorus exercising our 1st Amendment right to petition our government to address what’s not working in our country. The banks are getting the message by dropping their fees, but we need MUCH MORE than that. Our tax laws need a serious overhaul, and we must get money out of elections. I’ve listed 4 changes we must work for to restore fairness and financial integrity to our country.
It is easy to understand why Wall Street has become the archetypal symbol for greed and corruption in our country. The outrage being voiced by the 99% of American’s who are no longer represented by our elected officials’ saw where all the money went in the bailout of 2008. This bailout has been the gift that keeps on giving to the financial sector.
The too big to fail banks are bigger than before. Today, ten banks control 84% of all assets. Elizabeth Warren, very succinctly says in an interview with Ruth Conniff: “The banks lobbied Washington so they could write the rules that got us into this crisis. They then lobbied Washington to get the money to bail them out. And now they are lobbying Washington to write the rules so they can get us into the next crisis. Who owns this process? I hope the answer is the American people“. No legislation has been put into place to repeal the Financial Modernization Act of 1999.
1. Regulate Wall Street -Break Up Banks -Reinstate Glass Stegall Act: the pillaging was allowed by the de-regulation of the banks with the “Financial Modernization Act of 1999 or Graham Leech Bliley (GLB), repealing the Glass Stegall Act of 1933. This is a history lesson and worth reading if you don’t know what happened. The repeal of provisions of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933 effectively removed the separation which previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, bankers and brokers were sometimes indistinguishable. After the crash of 1929, Congress conducted hearings and examined the mixing of the “commercial” and “investment” banking industries during the roaring 1920’s. The hearings revealed conflicts of interest and fraud in some banking institutions’ securities activities. As a result, the Glass Stegall Act of 1933 was passed. Once a formidable barrier, but finally broken down with the consistent lobbying, the GLB Act of 1999 was passed. This was a bi-partisan effort, Gramm, Leach and Bliley were all republicans. President Bill Clinton signed it into law.
2. Reform the campaign finance system to limit/stop the impact of special interest money on our government: There is no doubt there has been a backlash from all the cash that has flowed into selling moneyed interest’s propaganda. Citizens United must be repealed, corporations are not people. Money cannot be allowed to buy votes. In last year’s election, special interest groups spent more than four times what they’d funneled into the previous midterm cycle, in 2006, according to a new Public Citizen report. We will never know where it came from. The scale of so much midterm money ($294.2 million in all) more closely resembles what was spent ($301.7 million) during the 2008 presidential election — suggesting voters have seen only a glimpse of what’s to come in 2012. Seventy-five seats in Congress switched parties in the November election. In 60 of those races, the winning candidate reaped more money from outside spending groups — money that, in some cases, might not have been available were it not for Citizens United. That data comes as close as critics can get in drawing a direct line from the court decision to an election.
3. Revamp our tax code. Corporations, multinational corporations and wealthy investors’ tax rates are at historic lows. Individuals who are investment income earners are taxed less. If you are an executive and you can control how your compensation is paid out, your overall tax rates are much lower than the 35 percent marginal federal rate. When you structure your compensation so that it’s tax-deferred, paid in stock options or paid as capital gains, dividends or carried interest, you can pay much less and keep more of your income. Long-term capital gains, dividends and carried interest are taxed at a maximum 15 percent rate. We’ve all heard about Warren Buffett, his average rate is 17.4 percent.
The 35% corporate tax rate for corporations is horribly misleading. Too many tax loop holes allow off shoring. Creative solutions like the “Dutch Sandwich and Double Irish” allow Corporations to pay rates of 3-5% if they use these tax avoidance strategies. Or sometimes no taxes at all. The combination of a Dutch Sandwich with the Double Irish scheme further reduces tax liabilities. Profitable companies like Oil Companies pay no taxes AND get Corporate Wealth Fare from subsidies. CEOs rake it in while their corporations dodge taxes: 25 extremely profitable Corporations last year paid their CEO’s more than they paid in taxes. Many of these corporations are sitting on billions of dollars in cash reserves. The small businesses of this country are the ones that need tax help and loans at 0.25%. Right now there is intense lobbying going on for corporations to bring back $1.4 Trillion they have creatively stashed off shore. They are lobbying for an 85% tax reduction to 5%. It is mind-boggling to hear Republicans still favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. We know, and they know, these actions had no trickle down effect, NOT even a drop, when they were created during the George W. Bush administration. For the last 3 years and right now, none either. The job creators are a myth. “There is no reason to believe that more of them will have any today,” writes Bruce Bartlett, an economist who worked in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and for Republican congressmen .”
4. Regulate or get rid of the Fed: The fed’s actions have made it very clear they are the bank for the very elite. They have done nothing to restore economic health to Main Street USA, while providing Trillions in loans to wealthy individuals, foreign banks and corporations. The July 2011 audit of the Fed by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) details $16 TRILLION in financial assistance to millionaires and billionaires, foreign banks and corporations (foreign automakers), from South Korea to Scotland, Mexico to Bahrain. Loans to wealthy individuals, like Michael Dell and Connie Mac, the wife of Morgan Stanley’s CEO John Mack. And to companies whose executives sit on the board of directors of theU.S. central bank. The Fed’s recent decision to allow Bank of America to place $75 Trillion worth of derivative contracts into an FDIC account without regulatory approval makes it clear they are dangerous to the economic health of our country.
Put your marching shoes on and speak up – Occupy Congress now.