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Wall Street's Race to the Bottom (By Elizabeth Warren)

Elizabeth Warren, COP, TARP, CFPB

Elizabeth Warren, COP, TARP, CFPB

Excellent piece from earlier this year.

(Videos are below)


Jamie Dimon is wrong. We shouldn't expect a crisis every five to seven years.


Banking is based on trust. The banks get our paychecks and hold our savings; they know where we spend our money and they keep it private. If we don't trust them, the whole system breaks down. Yet for years, Wall Street CEOs have thrown away customer trust like so much worthless trash.

Banks and brokers have sold deceptive mortgages for more than a decade. Financial wizards made billions by packaging and repackaging those loans into securities. And federal regulators played the role of lookout at a bank robbery, holding back anyone who tried to stop the massive looting from middle-class families. When they weren't selling deceptive mortgages, Wall Street invented new credit card tricks and clever overdraft fees.

In October 2008, when all the risks accumulated and the economy went into a tailspin, Wall Street CEOs squandered what little trust was left when they accepted taxpayer bailouts. As the economy stabilized and it seemed like we would change the rules that got us into this crisis—including the rules that let big banks trick their customers for so many years—it looked like things might come out all right.

Now, a year later, President Obama's proposals for reform are bottled up in the Senate. The same Wall Street CEOs who brought the economy to its knees have spent more than a year and hundreds of millions of dollars furiously lobbying Washington to kill the president's proposal for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).

Within the thousands of pages of print in the "Restoring American Financial Stability Act" now before the Senate, the consumer agency is the only proposal that would help families directly. Even those most concerned about the role of personal responsibility concede that it is hard for families to make smart decisions and to compare products when the paperwork on mortgages, credit cards and even checking accounts has morphed into reams of incomprehensible legalese.

The consumer agency is a watchdog that would root out gimmicks and traps and slim down paperwork, giving families a fighting chance to hang on to some of their money. So far, Wall Street CEOs seem determined to stop any kind of watchdog. They seem to think that they can run their businesses forever without our trust. This is a bad calculation.

It's a bad calculation because shareholders suffer enormously from the long-term cost of the boom-and- bust cycles that accompany a poorly regulated market. J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently explained this brave new world, saying that crises should be expected "every five to seven years."

He is wrong. New laws that came out of the Great Depression ended 150 years of boom-and-bust cycles and gave us 50 years with virtually no financial meltdowns. The stability ended as we dismantled those laws and failed to replace them with new laws that reflected modern business practices.

The reputations of Wall Street's most storied institutions are evaporating as the lack of meaningful consumer rules has set off a race to the bottom to develop new ways to trick customers. Wall Street executives explain privately that they cannot get rid of fine print, deceptive pricing, and buried tricks unilaterally without losing market share.

Citigroup learned this the hard way in 2007, when it decided to clean up its credit card just a little bit by eliminating universal default—the trick that allowed it to raise rates retroactively, even for consumers that did nothing wrong. Citi's reform resulted in lower revenues and no new customers, triggering an embarrassing public reversal.

Citi explained sheepishly that credit cards were now so complicated that customers couldn't tell when a company offered something a little better. So Citi went back to something a little worse. Without a watchdog in place, the big banks just keep slinging out uglier and uglier products.

With their reputations in tatters, the CEOs have decided to go on the offensive in Washington. They might have had some thoughtful suggestions for how to better shape a consumer agency. Instead, they have unleashed lobbyists who are determined to do anything to kill the consumer agency.

The latest lie is that the CFPA is "big government." The CEOs all know that the current regulatory structure, which they support, is big government at its worst: bureaucratic, unaccountable and ineffective. The CFPA will consolidate seven separate bureaucracies, cut down on paperwork, and promote understandable consumer products. In the process, it will stabilize the industry, rebuild confidence in the securitization market, and leave more money in the pockets of families. Complaining about short, readable contracts and efforts to slim down bureaucracy only further diminishes the banks' credibility.

This generation of Wall Street CEOs could be the ones to forfeit America's trust. When the history of the Great Recession is written, they can be singled out as the bonus babies who were so short-sighted that they put the economy at risk and contributed to the destruction of their own companies. Or they can acknowledge how Americans' trust has been lost and take the first steps to earn it back.

Ms. Warren is a law professor at Harvard and is currently the chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel.


VIDEO:  Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow discuss Republican and Democratic opposition to creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).  Don't be put off by Maddow.  These are both excellent clips.


VIDEO:  Dr. Warren on Obama's get tough approach to Wall Street --Jan. 21, 2010



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Reader Comments (65)


Of particular interest in Warren’s article is her comment on Congressional efforts to develop a consumer finance protection effort and the response of Wall Street’s CEOs to this effort. Warren derisively singles out JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, Wall Street’s top banker. She writes:

The consumer agency is a watchdog that would root out gimmicks and traps and slim down paperwork, giving families a fighting chance to hang on to some of their money. So far, Wall Street CEOs seem determined to stop any kind of watchdog. They seem to think that they can run their businesses forever without our trust. This is a bad calculation.

It’s a bad calculation because shareholders suffer enormously from the long-term cost of the boom-and- bust cycles that accompany a poorly regulated market. J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently explained this brave new world, saying that crises should be expected “every five to seven years.”

He is wrong.
Feb 10, 2010 at 11:05 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Hey @DB

Here is from Wall Street Banker Terrorists: Debate on............

(((((((((((((( Warning From Bankers! Listen Up! ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

We are very sorry for engineering our present economic crisis that has impoverished millions of American families, pushed the real unemployment rate to 17%, skyrocketed our deficit, trashed our currency...but if you dare try to tax our ill-gotten bonuses, or clawback the fees we earned pushing toxic CDOs and alike, there will be hell to pay!

We threatened financial Armageddon once before if our demands were not met, we can certainly do it again.

So all you pitchfork holders who are seeking justice, wake up! We own the Govt, the Fed, the SEC, our lobbies determine policy.

And I got news for you, these dog and pony shows your legislatures are putting on, admonishing our despicable behavior...well that's just a show. Behind closed doors we are all laughing.

No one is going to touch our bonuses, change the way we do business. So shut up and go home, prepare yourself for much higher taxes to cover our tab.

The joke is on you, America has a new sheriff in town, you have no voice, you have no power, simply indentured servants.
Feb 10, 2010 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterKen
I find these Leftist hypocrites such as this Dr. Warren to be very dangerous. All they ever manage to do is blame everyone but their pet, Big Government. The problem was not the Markets, not even the Banks but the BigAzz Government and it's completely corrupted policies put in place by greedy, corrupt politicians that are the root of the problem. Anything they propose as a solution will not work for they have failed to identify the real problem.
Feb 11, 2010 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterWestWright
Jamie Dimon should correct the spelling of his last name. The 'i' should be an 'e'. Why isn't he in jail? Oh, ritght. He bought the lawmakers.
Feb 15, 2010 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterScott Cheffer
Hey guys, the poor are not going to get us out of this mess, only the rich can. And at least a temporary tax hike on the top 3% is in order. But long term we must get the cash bribes out of the political system, and only public funding of campaigns can do that.

Politicians spend money because they are PAID to spend money by the Fat Cats that want in our pocket. We are at the mercy of corporations run for profits, enabled by a privatized congress that shares in those profits. Our problem is NOT government, and it is not R's or D's. It *IS* that government is owned by the special interests that want in the taxpayer's pockets.

As a former CEO my company would not have survived if I had a board of directors who took money on the side and gave away company assets in return. Our country can't survive this corruption either.

Nothing is going to change until we have public funding of campaigns. What is it about political bribes do we not understand? They BUY political spending, which leads to deficits and high taxes.

If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. And at $5 per taxpayer per year it would be a bargain. Even at 100 times that. We MUST lobby our senators and representative to co-sponsor the bill at: http://fairelectionsnow.org/about-bill

Jack Lohman ...
Sep 18, 2010 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
How to steer web traffic to your blog...by Jack Lohman...

Hey Jack, the single-payer healthcare is socialized medicine. Jack, you are bad for my heart. I hope you do return to chat, I can help you. I have helped many fence-sitters.

Jack, do you really think international sanctions will work on Iran? Isn’t that one of the reasons why we needed to go into Iraq, 17 UN resolutions failed miserably? The UN was found to be corrupt, AGAIN!

I would love to read your book, please send me a copy. So, why did you not vote for Nader?
Sep 18, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterZ
Sorry Z, if people want to see my complete disclosure they can go to my blog. And, uh, Z, you might want to give disclosure a try.
Sep 18, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
What would you like me to disclose?
Sep 18, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterZ
Why not start with your name and any companies or non-profits you represent? Why must you hide behind the anonymity of the Internet? Sure I'm open to debate, but with people and not computers. As a retired business owner (and Republican) I look at things pragmatically, as my blog should communicate. Slam it if you will, but have the conviction to use your name.
Sep 18, 2010 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
I only represent myself. I am not marketing or selling anything. My name would have no relevance to you because you do not know me and you have not met me. I am not your doppelganger, obviously, and I am not looking to date your daughter. I am not your long lost relative and I have not found your dog. My name is not Mark Knopfler or Piper Perabo. I am not famous or infamous. If I fell into a well or partied like a rock star at a Tea Party, you would not recognize the ripple effect. In the great cosmic continuum, the inconsequentiality of your question is mindblowing.
Sep 18, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterZ
Sep 18, 2010 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
Do you have to know the people who read your book?
Sep 18, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterZ
You can read it free by downloading from my website. And for the record, at 73 I don't care about the special interests... I care about the country left behind for my kids and grandkids. You mentioned that single-payer is socialized medicine. You are wrong, but what if it were? It would be the best JOBS bill ever, all while giving care to 100% of US residents and saving $400 billion in health care costs. What's not to like about that?
Sep 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman

Thanks for visiting. If you wrote a book called "Politicians -- Owned and Operated by Corporate America," then you can appreciate what we do here.

I'd be particularly interested in what you say about the SEC and/or FINRA. Do you have any blog posts on those?

Dr. Pitchfork
Sep 18, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
I haven't written on those, Dr. Pitchfork, mainly because I'm terrible at the financial issue but do understand corruption. I know that the SEC is spineless, mostly because of the moneyed political system and the cash that flows to the politicians that could put teeth into it. But they won't because then the cash flow would stop.

I can tell you that as a former business owner, with offices in four states, had I had an employee or board member that was taking cash on the side and giving company asserts in return, I'd have him jailed. But at the congressional level we simply re-elect these jerks.

But get the money out of the political system and you'll see the SEC and other regulators cleaned up overnight.
Sep 18, 2010 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
I think that the public school system, USPS, Amtrak, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, NASA (that one is for Daily Bail & Dr. P), the Corps of Engineers (New Orleans levees), FEMA (the response), Medicare (the fraud), Federal Reserve Bank (the economic collapse / being government run is debatable) and many other government run and managed endeavors should lead you to some different conclusions. I could probable spend all day naming the failures and a few minutes naming the successes. The government is inefficient and has little incentive to save money. There is no reason to believe based on past performance that the government has the ability to cut costs without dramatically effecting quality of care. The jobs that will be created will be non-value added jobs such as another dense layer of bureaucracy that will be prone to corruption in hiring practices and will come with an inability to fire the poor performers. Jack, even Obama is backtracking on his cost promises. Socialized medicine is rationed health care. Is the government trustworthy? Do you like the government’s track record?

Sep 18, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterZ
I will check in later. I enjoyed our chat Jack. I hope you stick around. This is a great site for lively debate and to keep up with the goings-on (questionable activities) of Corporate America and the government. The day is nice and the lake is calling.
Sep 18, 2010 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterZ
I am not for inefficient government, and in fact favor a "regulated" free market. But what we have is an unfettered free market where the lack of regulations have allowed dishonest and greedy CEOs and bankers to rip off the public. But MUCH BECAUSE of our moneyed and corrupt political system!

Let's dispel the rhetoric about "if govt pays they will pull the plug on Granny." Or thereabouts.

Single-payer only means that "approved" care is paid for and "unapproved" is not. That does NOT mean that you cannot go outside of the system and pay for fringe procedures on your own, the good old-fashioned free-market way, with cash dollars. And for the record Medicare is 95% private contractors (I was one of them).

I've been on Medicare for five years and let me assure you that doctors and patients (mostly patients) call the shots. And if I demand a procedure that is not approved I can get it... with cash dollars. So *I* have the power of life and death... not the government.

Importantly, single-payer (Medicare-for-all) will be funded by the national infrastructure, not businesses. It means a taxpayer bailout of 100% of those businesses in the US that employ US workers. They'll then be able to compete with manufacturers around the world that are not burdened with health care costs. I prefer this to banker giveaways.

JOBS will be saved and created and our economy will benefit. Fewer jobs will leave the US as a result. (Today more Big Three cars are manufactured in Canada than in Detroit because their health care costs are $800 per employee per year there and $7000 here.)

And for the record, I have the option of the privatized side of Medicare (Medicare Advantage) which 20% of Medicare patients have chosen. Trouble is, it costs taxpayers 17% MORE than traditional Medicare because of higher costs (CEO salaries, bonuses, commissions, and even their campaign contributions which they pass onto the patient). So much for "private" being more efficient than "public."

Though I do agree that FEMA and the others are poorly run, and need better regulation. And a contracted Salvation Army would have done better (though even that could have become a big fraud if we didn't regulate it).

But that regulation can't come from a corrupt congress.
Sep 18, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman

I must admit, I find some of your views intriguing, just got back from checking them out at your site.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Thanks S. Gompers.

I hope people see this as neither right or left, republican or democrat. We are all getting screwed by the corporate Fat Cats and financial industry (and even then only a small part of them are dishonest and greedy, but enough to kill our economy).

Our major problem is not the R's or D's, it's political corruption. Not in Afghanistan, here in America. And until we clean up our political system it will remain.

Neither would I let the lazies off the hook, and believe that anybody taking free health care and food stamps should be made to work for it. Cleaning or shoveling sidewalks, volunteering time, whatever. But WORK for it while looking for a good job.

But our politicians have given the good jobs to other countries so I find coming down too hard on the unwillingly unemployed a bit difficult. I have good hard-working friends that are out of work, so it can happen to any of us.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
"Our major problem is not the R's or D's, it's political corruption."

Welcome to the site, that is Gobies (Z) problem, he will agree with you abot corruption from the Democrats, but truly believes that there never has been any Republican misconduct, it is all just "other party lies". He is the only devout herd animal here.

"But our politicians have given the good jobs to other countries so I find coming down too hard on the unwillingly unemployed a bit difficult. I have good hard-working friends that are out of work, so it can happen to any of us. "

I agree, I to have many unemployed friends through no fault of their own. But the Goobermint has been proudly giving these taxpaying Americans jobs away proudly for many administrations while the true herdists proudly give their support to destroying America by maintaining the broken system.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Jack and Gomp,

I wonder if either of you have seen or read Bill Isaac's "Senseless Panic"? It just came out this summer. Isaacs is the former head of FDIC. He tried valiantly to stop TARP, working closely with Issa, Kaptur and other anti-TARP members.

Anyhow, two recurring themes in the book (i'm halfway done) are the influence of money in politics, and the lack of courageous, non-partisan regulators. The world Isaacs describes sounds like a different planet. I have 0 confidence in people like Geithner, Paulson, Bernanke, Summers, Bair, et al. And why should I? Their actions have earned them 0 credibility. (I think that's why many of my generation -- i'm in my 30's -- are so skeptical and fearful of things like single-payer health care. Before we get money out of politics, I don't even want to think about trying single-payer.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Registered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
I haven't seen it, I will have to check it out.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
I plan on checking out Jacks book as well, as one who did some lobbying before my personal awakening, I am very familiar with the broken system, and many of the players.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
S. Gompers the lobbyist?! Heh, heh.

If you were interested in filling readers in on how some of this works, I bet Steve would be interested in publishing it.
Sep 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM | Registered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
Well, don't worry a bit, Dr. P. Single-payer was the best thing that could have happened to our nation, and it was bought off with $125 million in industry bribes and was never put on the table. Even $20 million to Obama helped him acquiesce.

I've learned one thing: bad bills don't require bribes to kill them, they will die for free. But they require lots of cash to pass (thus ObamaCare that will prove an [O]bomination. Cash is needed (and works) to kill good bills, and single-payer was one of them.

So all of our partisan efforts are a waste, because new politicians come in and the Fat Cats change the name on the bribes they send, and we don't skip a beat as we move toward new giveaways.

I'm new to the site but if Steve wants to contact me he can email at jelohman@gmail.com, or give me his email and I will write.
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
"Well, don't worry a bit, Dr. P. Single-payer was ... was bought off with $125 million in industry bribes and was never put on the table."
Good point! But it supports my take on the issue, too. If Obamacare is "reform," I can only imagine what kind of form single payer would take with the same people writing the bill (and the same people handing out the bribes).

I will say, though, that what we got is probably much worse than what the progressive-left wanted to see.
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
"I'm new to the site but if Steve wants to contact me he can email at jelohman@gmail.com, or give me his email and I will write. "
Jack, I was addressing S. Gompers about writing for the site (about his career as a lobbyist), but if you want to get in touch with Steve (The Daily Bail), his email is thedailybail@gmail.com.
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM | Registered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
And Gompers, or anyone else that wants, just download a free pdf from my site at http://moneyedpoliticians.net

If you want a hard copy just send me your address. I didn't write it to make money and will be happy to send it for free.

Jack Lohman ... jelohman@gmail.com

And for those who care I wrote a short (though distressing) piece on how we got into this mess here:
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
Dr. P., converting to a national single-payer system requires only one thing: eliminate the age of 65 from the original Medicare bill. All of the mechanism is in place. No additional govt departments required, and in fact we'd eliminate Medicaid and SCHIP and other state administrative departments.
I realize that. Alan Grayson (I think) tried to do just that in response to the way Obamacare was shaping up. But that won't stop the corruption -- Big Pharma and medical device makers would still be sidling up to the trough unless something were done to stop them. And how would total costs be managed -- in favor of the corporations, in favor of the taxpayer, or in favor of runaway costs and more debt?

Sep 18, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
Gomp, you'll like this. Jack wrote in the blog post he linked to:

Who’s to blame for all of this?

You are. The voters.

You believe the politician’s rhetoric and lies, ignore their payola, and then vote him or her back into office.

We must turn this around with a 100% turnover in congress — forced term limits — until they eliminate the bribery from the political system. Throw them out in the primary so your party of choice remains.
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:51 PM | Registered CommenterDr. Pitchfork

My seven years doing that was part time representing my chosen career, it was not my career itself. Career lobbyists are truly vultures picking off the bones of what is left of America, I saw that even then.

It is not something I choose to write about, but is why I suspect Jack's book will appeal to me.

Even then, I stood against outsourcing, offshoring, increasing debt, borrowing from any nation (especially Communists), unbalanced trade deals, NAFTA, GATT, FTAA, WTO, etc., but the career boys would represent anything for their fee.

Whores beget whores I suppose...
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
"Gomp, you'll like this. Jack wrote in the blog post he linked to:

Who’s to blame for all of this?

You are. The voters."

That is what I keep trying to say. we must stop the ping pong game. I have been to Jacks site before.
Sep 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Yes, Pitchfork, Grayson tried (and will still try) to get a Medicare Option that allows anybody (companies or individuals) to "buy into" Medicare at cost. The problem is that many companies are saying "I ain't gonna buy nothing... buy your own," and most individuals can't afford to. And the idea is to get companies to get the hell out of health care altogether, because they don't belong there and just add another middleman and even if they do provide insurance, add it to their product price and we reimburse them at the cash register. All while making them uncompetitive with foreign companies that don't have to add health care to their product price. Here are two pieces that are relevant to our discussion:


Sep 18, 2010 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
("Isn’t that one of the reasons why we needed to go into Iraq,")

We didn't need to go into Iraq.
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others deliberately misled the American people for a war that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the neo-cons wanted to gain control of a major middle eastern oil reserve. They needed that for future geopolitical control of the planet. I think George W. was after Saddam for attempting a hit on George H.W.

Of course now that the crooks on Wall Street and in the government have pretty much bankrupted the American People, if I were a betting man I'd bet on China for geopolitical control of the planet. They won't go to war for oil they'll just buy it.
Sep 18, 2010 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush
Good point Sage, we needed and need to go into Iran.

About needing to go into Iraq, of all the people you mentioned, how many of them voted on going into Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions?


Obama opposed the war from the start but we all see what he has done since then.

Dubya's dad, really? Did all the people I listed above also use that as motivation? I know, you hate and never supported any of those people.
Sep 19, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterZ
"Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions?"


Sep 19, 2010 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
much to comment on here...

jack lohman has been around here before...a few times...jack and i met over at the sunlight foundation online chat during finreg conference committee debate...

it's interesting that the discussion moved to healthcare and away from jack's original point...which is election funding reform...he's absolutely right...the simplest and most elegant way to remove the influence of lobbying is to have taxpayers fund campaigns...we need to get there as soon as possible...it won't eliminate graft and corruption completely but will remove a huge chunk of it...

and all commenters know that they may submit stories fro publication to me thru email...jack i would love to publish something from you on the public/campaign funding theme...i've been to your site a few times, but with 250 tabs currently open i don't have the time to search and read...

choose the best you've written in the past from your blog on this issue and send it to me...

Sep 19, 2010 at 2:46 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
"the simplest and most elegant way to remove the influence of lobbying is to have taxpayers fund campaigns"

I agree, I am a strong advocate of eliminating lobbying and having taxpayers fund campaigns. That way the majority will rule, instead of the minority with capital, and we could prosecute anyone caught taking private money.

Besides, all money "donated" is ultimately passed on to consumers anyway through increased pricing.
Sep 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Thanks Steve and Gomp. Of course, the reason we can't get there is because the incumbents have control and demand all of the private money, and the Fat Cats know whom to schmooze, and money buys elections, and challengers without money fail, thus the current politicians like things just as they are; corrupt but legal.

Our best shot is the fair Elections Now Act which is being brought forward by the Dems (conveniently, just before election but without time for passage). But here's the link: http://fairelectionsnow.org/about-bill

I'd suggest calling your reps but they are either very against it or very for it, and your one voice is not going to sway them. If you can encourage a group, all the better. Public demand may sway some of the more honest ones.

Otherwise I'm encouraging people through my newsletter to just throw them all out in November.
Sep 19, 2010 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
I don't think they allowed lobbying behind the Iron Curtain.

Taxpayers funding campaigns, that never happens (see Meg Whitman).
Sep 19, 2010 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterZ
Meg Whitman would of course "opt out" of public funding, but that's also the reason it passes constitutional muster: it is "optional." Obama (sadly) opted out, and he should have paid the price for doing so.
Sep 19, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
"I don't think they allowed lobbying behind the Iron Curtain. "

The more totalitarian the regime, the more effective buying influence becomes.


Sep 19, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Jack, I assume that it is the bill that Obama is currently sponsoring. What are the pros and cons? You can’t learn those from going to the source. Huffington says that it is not a partisan issue so we know it must contain some partisanship.

I have done a little reading on FENA and I see why it appeals to the Dems. This is a backdoor way to get federal funds to the candidates (a four-fold match). It will be funded with taxes and the sale of the broadcast spectrum (which you guys always like to point out that it will be pushed down to the customers). This on its own would be unconstitutional in my opinion and appears to be very discriminatory. Obama likes to shit on the Constitution (he likes to refer to it as a flawed document).

The idea of deciding with standards who is a "qualified candidate" sounds fishy. Who would be in charge of these important decisions? The idea of forced debate to qualify is also very concerning. Who would run the debates and how would they be administered.

I agree with the sentiment that FENA has some big Constitutional hurdles that makes it very unattractive.

Jack (or others)…What are the cons? Are there any that I missed? Why does FENA want to limit it to in-state donations? Is it fair to pass on the costs to a targeted group? What about the free speech issues?
Sep 19, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterZ
I don't think Obama is "sponsoring" it though he did support public funding while in the senate and I expect that he would sign it. Yes it get funds to the candidates, of both political parties, but also to third-parties and independents. And thereby lies the rub.

Nobody "decides who is a "qualified candidate." They either gather enough community support (signatures and contributions) or they do not. And why in the world would a "forced debate" bother you. If they are reluctant to speak before the people (and debate), they are not worthy of office. But IF they don't want to actually say anything in the debate, I suppose they could take the 5th. :-)

What is FENA? Public funding has been challenged in the courts and has been sustained. I cover the constitutional issues on my blog today at

and again here: http://www.wicleanelections.org/opposing-arguments.html
Sep 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
FENA...Fair Elections Now Act...what we are talking about...

You say...If they are reluctant to speak before the people (and debate), they are not worthy of office.

So now you are the judge and jury, you proved my point.

You say...Nobody "decides who is a "qualified candidate."

The Act does not define (decide) who qualifies for government matched funding?

As for you blog post on the constitutionality of FENA, your point is that because you can opt out or not volunteer that means it does not discriminate? I don't get that argument???
Sep 19, 2010 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterZ
Sorry, I've never heard it called FENA, but oh well.

Oh, so you want them able to opt out of the debate? Okay. I'll let the drafters know.

How does it discriminate? Your choices are either yes or no. Do you want a "maybe?"
Sep 19, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
And incidentally, if they want to opt out of the debate, all they have to do is opt out of FENA.
Sep 19, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman
("I know, you hate and never supported any of those people.")

I do not hate any of those people, and I have never supported a single one of them. Up until George W. Bush and his incompetents turned the U.S. constitution into toilet paper I was a registered Republican. I spent too many years believing my parties elected officials were actually working for the good of the American People when they were not.

It is now just as obvious to me the party line I voted in the last election is just as corrupt and sold out to the special interests as the Republicans are, hell they may be even worse as they are throwing a hell of a lot more of our money away.

I have to agree with Jack L. , D.B., and Gompers our electoral system is totally captured by people who don't give a s**t about the majority of the American People. We need public campaign financing and a bounty on lobbyists. Just joking about the bounty, tarred and feathered and run out of town would suffice.

However with the elite corporate control of factual information available to the general public I can't see how enough of the voters will learn they need to force a change in the electoral system. Mainstream Media will overload them with meaningless BS. The government and Wall Street will start false flag operations and market manipulations to scare folks into line.

I don't think anything is going to change till we hit the bottom and major crap hits the fan, once that happens maybe the next time around we can get it right.

And Z we damn sure don't need to go to war with Iran anymore then we needed to go to war with Iraq. If push came to shove we could turn their country into a glass topped coffee table and they know it. Two screwed up wars over there are enough.
Actually three George H.W. should have finished the first one when he had justifiable reason for doing so. That one was screwed up also.
Sep 19, 2010 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush
Yes, Sage, MSM is part of the problem. If they get tough with the politicians as they should, they'll no longer get politicians to interviews. And many of their advertisers like the corrupt system just as it is (Pharma anyone?).
Sep 19, 2010 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack E Lohman

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