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Jane White

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How Some Democrats Sold Their Souls to the 1 Percent

Posted: 03/19/2012 11:25 am

I recently returned from a heartbreaking trip to Canada. I wasn't attending a funeral but depositing a big chunk of my household savings in a Canadian bank -- because I can no longer trust reckless American banks. What is most depressing is that my late parents were immigrants from Canada who loved this land of opportunity -- my Mom would cry when she heard our national anthem. They would be deeply saddened that the country of their birth that National Lampoon once disparaged as "the retarded giant on our doorstep" is looking a lot smarter than we are. Canada's banks were ranked the soundest in the world for the fourth consecutive year by the World Economic Forum, compared to Number 40 for the U.S..

The only thing worse than watching your country go down the toilet is discovering that a band of Democrats is doing most of the flushing.

Wonder why we haven't had genuine financial services reform? The blame falls on a group called the New Democrat Coalition, members of Congress who have sold their souls to the business lobby in exchange for generous campaign contributions and future jobs as lobbyists -- call it "The K Street Project, Part Blue." According to the New York Times, ProPublica calls the NDC "a group of 69 lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists makes them one of the most successful money machines since the K Street Project collapsed." Eight of the top 13 Democratic House recipients of Wall Street cash are NDC members.

The NDC pressured former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) to scale back a proposal that would force big banks to spin off their derivatives businesses http://thehill.com/homenews/house/103447-centrist-house-dems-oppose-lincoln-derivatives-measure and battled against requiring that banks offer fixed-rate, not just adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), according to a 2009 article in CongressDaily. As a former ARM victim, I know first hand that monthly payments on a loan can spike by as much as 30% in three years, despite the fact that nobody's income goes up that much that fast. It's basically a sleazy tactic of raking in profits by charging a higher interest rate on loans held by people with a limited credit history rather than advising these prospective homeowners to wait until they've built a better history or can afford a bigger down payment so they can qualify for a fixed-rate loan. I have yet to see the media cover this scam accurately.

Wonder how we got into this financial pickle in the first place? Many New Dems voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act enacted in 1999, which paved the way for "too big to fail" banks. A significant number of New Democrats also threw their weight behind the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which limited the regulation of financial derivates..

Where are the Democratic White Knights -- or the True Blues -- who will come to the country's rescue? Here's hoping that the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a 75-member group of liberal House Democrats, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, will have a significant impact replacing sellout Dems with fellow progressives in the next election. Among their priorities, the Progressive Caucus seeks to "export more American products, not American jobs," a practice that was exacerbated by China's entry into the World Trade Organization, which the New Democrat Coalition favored. While nobody wants to deprive any nation of economic expansion it should not come at the cost of other countries.

In the meantime, a progressive group called The Campaign for America's Future is holding a "Take Back the American Dream 2012" conference June 18-20 in Washington, D.C. with the intent of preventing "unlimited corporate campaign cash from buying this election" along with helping progressives win elections. Here's a link to the page on their website where you can sign up. Those of us who feel that getting involved in political matters is beneath our dignity should seriously reconsider; otherwise this nation will continue to be held hostage by the 1%. I hope to participate and look forward to seeing you fellow True Blues.