Last month, I marched arm in arm through the streets of Washington, D.C. with Al Marshall, a construction inspector from Oakland, California.
After 12 years of mortgage payments, Al lost the home he bought and renovated for his family. Why? Because after Wall Street crashed the economy, his wife lost her job, his hours were cut--and for six months, Wells Fargo wouldn't return his calls.
Al was one of thousands of Americans who traveled from all over the country to Washington, D.C. to give voice to what too many families are facing right now.
Too many families are living under the constant threat of foreclosure as Wall Street banks refuse to help them save their homes. Families are being evicted onto the streets and entire neighborhoods sit abandoned and boarded up.
Too many families are choosing between paying the light bill and paying the rent or mortgage payment because mom and dad can't find work.
Too many businesses on Main Street are shutting their doors and laying off workers because banks refuse to loan them the credit they desperately need to keep the lights on.
Too many of our cities and states are cutting teachers and first responders because foreclosures continue to wipe out tax bases and plunge municipalities into bankruptcy.
And while working families struggle to get by, we've watched Wall Street CEOs use our tax dollars to enrich themselves and pay out massive bonuses. Wall Street bonuses alone could stop every foreclosure in America through 2012.
This is no way to run an economy.
That's why a movement is building across the country to challenge the toxic influence Wall Street and corporations have on our democracy.
Workers aren't asking for anything extraordinary.
What workers want is a shot at the American Dream. The promise that if you work hard and play by the rules you can afford to feed and support your kids. You can put a roof over their heads. Your neighborhood has good schools. You can retire with dignity and your children will be better off.
That's it. Workers aren't asking for the lavish lives of Wall Street CEOs. No mansions, private schools, or yachts needed.
Working families expect our leaders to fix what's broken with our financial system.
Al Marshall and those hit hardest by the economic collapse are counting on the House and Senate to send a strong final Wall Street reform bill to the President's desk.
There is nothing radical in this bill. What's radical is the idea that working families are each and every day still paying the price for Wall Street's recklessness and greed.
American families can accept no excuse for voting against these common sense reforms. These new rules will protect our families from dangerous and deceptive financial products and prevent taxpayers from paying for Wall Street's future mistakes.
Congress must stand up to Wall Street CEOs and their high-priced lobbyists who are stepping up efforts to water down and defeat much-needed reforms. Toxic derivative deals and the shadow markets under which private equity firms operate were at the heart of our economic collapse. We need to pass strong new rules to police these products and bring them out of the shadows.
Each day Congress waits to finalize new rules for our financial system is another day Wall Street CEOs are allowed to engage in the same risky bets that crashed our economy.
Each day our leaders put off the hard work of rebuilding our economy is another day the American Dream slips further and further out of reach for Al Marshall and the rest of our families.