If you haven't read it, check it out here: "Michael Bennet Listens to Coloradans Hurt by Wall Street Abuses."
According to this, "Last week, Michael helped advance a comprehensive financial reform package to clean up the mess on Wall Street -- the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 -- out of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee." Among the many platitudes of this act are four key goals:
Don't we all support these? I bet Jane Norton does. I bet Andrew Romanoff does. I even bet David Duke supports these goals. Thank God Bennet does.
On top of this, the Bennet campaign says, "Michael strongly supports an independent consumer protection agency, and will keep looking for ways to further strengthen the independence of the consumer protection bureau."
From Bennet's perspective, which consumers are we talking about? The tax payers? Surely not. The people who buy million dollar homes on Hill Top here in Denver? Maybe. People who took mortgages that have now soured? The banks were underhanded on some percentage of mortgages, but it wasn't that which brought down the U.S. economy. It was bundling trillions of dollars in bad mortgage debt and spreading that across tens of brokerage and insurance concerns that killed several Wall Street firms and sent the country into a deep recession, among other not-so-consumer related activities I won't pretend to understand.
Don't get me wrong, the failure of Wall Street firms certainly hurt consumers, especially Wall Street taking government money meant to stimulate our credit markets only to use the money to give executives really, really big bonuses. Is that what Bennet intends to reform? You be the judge.
I think this latest piece of propaganda is Bennet's attempt to address the negative press he is starting to receive as a result of his dealings as DPS superintendent. Bennet's direct involvement in a $750 million Wall Street transaction associated with Denver Public Schools' teacher retirement system (see $20 million dollars and a hen house full of chickens) has fed taxpayer money directly into the waiting mouths of several of Wall Street's biggest firms.
To do this, Bennet convinced the Denver schools' board of education to approve the $750 million deal, failing to tell them about key risks associated with the transactions. Further, strong evidence exists Bennet did not adequately inform the Colorado legislature of the costs associated with the transactions or its probable impact of the Colorado Professional Employees Retirement System (PERA) as part of negotiating SB09-282, which allowed the merger between DPS' retirement system and the state's system.
So far, Bennet's 2008 transaction has directly cost Denver taxpayers at least $50 million, all of which went down Wall Street's gullet. In refinancing debt from 2005, and that was due to be paid off in 2018, Bennet added over $300 million to the total amount owed by tax payers. This also goes to satisfy Wall Street's hunger for profit.
Further, in negotiating the ability for DPS to deduct 8.5% of its debt from its 2008 transaction, Bennet cost PERA at least $48 million per year, or over $250 million at PERA's assumed 8.5% rate of return over the next 5 years. In 2015, DPS will have to "true up" its accounts with PERA. Guess what? DPS will probably have to take another loan from Wall Street to pay off the resulting short fall.
The real winners during Bennet's tenure as superintendent of Denver's public school system were JP Morgan, Citi, Bank of America, and the Royal Bank of Canada. The losers are you and me. As for Bennet, he gets millions from Wall Street to pay for his senate campaign.
Wall Street firms know which side their bread is buttered on -- the Bennet side.
When the Bennet campaign quotes an unnamed participant at the Wall Street round table as having said, "All I want to do is pay my bills, and watch my kids grow," is this what you think the participant had in mind? According to Bennet's campaign, the attendee was frustrated about Wall Street receiving bailouts while he struggled to find a job. How do you think he feels now?
Bennet has taken more money from Wall Street than any but 5 others in the U.S. Congress. Bennet's campaign fund raising is made up of money largely from outside Colorado. Many of Bennet's biggest contributors are Republican, including Phillip Anschutz. Why?
Just as an example, while working for Anschutz, Bennet oversaw the consolidation of three movie theater chains into Regal Entertainment Group. At the end of this consolidation, Bennet led the new Board of Directors into offering a one-time cash dividend of $715 million, for which the company had to take a pretty big loan. Guess who the majority stock holder was? That's right, Philip Anschutz. He made approximately $315 million from the cash dividend.
More interestingly, guess who sued the Board of Directors of Regal? The Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana, minority holders of Regal's stock. You see, the teachers worried the dividend would put Regal on risky financial ground and endanger the retirement system's assets and, thus, pensioners. A Delaware judge through the case out of court. What are the odds.
There is a track record here of not acting in the best interest of the public but rather looking out for the guy with deep pockets. It is a track record that every Coloradoan should consider carefully before believing any of Michael Bennet's hype, especially around reforms on Wall Street. Frankly, his past performance is probably pretty indicative of his future behavior: take your money and run... for the U.S. Senate.
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