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Dick Durbin summed up the plain and ugly truth for us: the banks "are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And frankly own the place."
It's time for the rest of us to declare these big banks politically and morally insolvent, and foreclose on their ownership of DC. The question is how to do it.
Here are six steps toward dis-empowering Wall Street:
1. We need to create a big new coalition which becomes the center of gravity on the banking issue, in the same way that Health Care for America Now has become such a center on the drive for progressive health care reform. I envision this as a combination of national organizations and networks, and the grassroots activists like the folks who have been organizing at A New Way Forward. National groups that might be interested labor unions; consumer groups (many of which are already quite active on this issue), broader progressive movement organizations like USAction, ACORN, Campaign for America's Future, and Center for Community Change; neighborhood organizing networks like Industrial Areas Foundation, National Peoples' Action, and Gamaliel.
2. We need the best and brightest thinkers on this issue -- people like Joseph Stiglitz, Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, Simon Johnson, Rob Johnson, William Greider, George Soros, and Leo Hindery -- to come together and work through a Plan B, an alternative path to the one being taken now.
3. We need to press forward aggressively on passing public financing of campaigns, because without that happening, the power of the banks will remain overwhelming even if we do convince the Obama administration to go a new way.
4. We should support and encourage the kind of investigative journalism projects on banking that Huffingtonpost and Atlantic Philanthopies are supporting through the Huffingtonpost Investigative Fund.
5. Progressives at the national and local level should reach out to community bankers and savings and loans. They might not all agree with us, but I'm guessing the broad majority are sick to death of the power of the biggest banks.
6. Speaking of which, we should start a nationwide movement to switch our deposits from the big banks into community banks and the savings and loans. I don't think most people like giving their money to people who are destroying our economy and democracy.
Let the movement begin.