Jobs Could Be Lost: Punching In A Little Later

Will Congress fund infrastructure projects?

Obama warns that jobs could be lost if Congress fails to act soon.

Sometimes, you have to go at it alone

Here’s four ways that Obama can reform immigration, on his own.

No surprise here, discrimination at Goldman

Former Goldman Sachs employees charge the bank with ignoring sexual assault and discrimination, among other things.

New book exposes LePage

LePage has been accused of meeting with anti-Democratic conspirators nearly eight times.

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Workers Tell Their State Attorneys General: Banks Aren’t Above the Law

“Banks don’t need a slap on the wrist, they need a kick in the ass.”

Jim from Escanaba, Michigan, wasn’t mincing words when he wrote his message to Attorney General Bill Schuette. Jim was one of thousands of Working America members and union members who sent messages to their state attorneys general about the impending settlement with Big Banks on the issue of foreclosure fraud.

As Seth wrote yesterday, state Attorneys General will be deciding soon on a “50 state deal” that could let banks off the hook for their shady, deceptive, and possibly illegal foreclosure methods. Stories about tactics like “robo-signing” – where a bank employee signs thousands of documents and affidavits approving mortgage foreclosures without really looking at them – are widespread, but if the state AG’s take sign on to a proposed deal, none of these cases will be thoroughly investigated. Worse, the very people responsible could get legal immunity.

It would be one thing if the large financial institutions were truly doing their part to aid in the recovery of the economy they helped destroy. But what we’re seeing now, and throughout 2011, is that the wealthiest are having their own private recovery while the rest of the 99 Percent remain stuck in the mud. “Please stand up to these greedy banks and punish them as though it was one of us 99 Percenters,” wrote Doug from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, “Why did my house’s value decline by nearly 50 percent while their bonuses grew?”

As for homeowners, 7.5 million homes have entered the foreclosure process, and 11 million are at risk. The problems that started the mess in 2008 have not yet abated.

If your state Attorney General doesn’t call for an investigation, and instead takes the lazy, easy way out by taking a deal, the people responsible for our economy’s collapse will never be held accountable. There will be no reason for the robo-signers, fraudsters, and predatory lenders to change their ways. Stephanie from Greenwood Lake, New York, in her message to AG Eric Schniderman, says that she has seen these dirty tactics firsthand:

As a foreclosure prevention counselor at a local non-profit for the past 6 years, I know the devastating effects of the financial crisis; I see first-hand the irresponsible behavior of the big banks towards homeowners. There is clear evidence of misconduct, fraud and out-and-out crime perpetrated against the American people and no one is doing anything about it!

If any of us did our jobs the way the Big Banks did theirs, we’d not only get fired – we’d probably go to jail. “Ordinary Americans who commit a sliver of what high financiers did over the past half-decade would be lucky to see sunlight for the rest of existence,” wrote Jim from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to his AG Robert Cooper, Jr. Stephanie from Greenwood Lake, New York echoed those sentiments: “If I ever attempted to commit any of the acts the big banks perpetrated before, during and after the mortgage crisis, I would be in jail for a very long time.”

The central issue here is not revenge, but fairness. Many messages mentioned the fact that if you or I committed theft, or if a fellow American lost their home because of our negligence, we would be summarily punished. Unless we want history to repeat itself, we need a thorough investigation of these shady mortgage practices and put a stop to them.

We know that Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial aren’t above the law. The question is, do our state Attorneys General agree with us?

Photo by scad_lo on Flickr, via Creative Commons.

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Banking Lobbyists Lay Out the Playbook for Attacking the 99 Percent

On Saturday, Chris Hayes unveiled a story that says a lot about how our political system works. A top Washington, D.C. lobbying firm wrote a secret memo to the American Bankers Association, a client of theirs, advising them to go on the attack against Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent movement. Hayes got a copy of this memo and reported on it during his weekend show, “Up with Chris Hayes.”

In a five-minute segment, Hayes explains who these lobbyists are and what their suggested strategy of “opposition research” and “negative narratives” would mean. Their goal was to get their banker clients to secretly fund a public campaign to discredit Occupy Wall Street and bully political figures out of offering sympathy or support—and furthermore, to bully politicians out of acting legislatively on any of the issues that motivate Occupy Wall Street.

What does this mean? Well, first and foremost, it means that these protests are working. Finance industry lobbyists see the protests as a genuine threat to their continued power and influence. They understand that the issues raised by these protests resonate across the political spectrum—so they want to squash them.

What these elite Washington lobbyists have figured out is the same thing we’ve seen at the thousands of homes we visit in working-class and middle-class neighborhoods every week: that the protests have struck a nerve and gotten people talking in a new way about economic inequality and corporate accountability.

The lobbying firm in question, CLGC is a major political player—two of the firm partners who authored the strategy memo are former top aides to Speaker of the House John Boehner. And the Public Campaign Action Fund notes that CLGC and its partners are major political donors with close business relationships to the Chamber of Commerce, Mitt Romney and the big banks.

In the memo, the lobbyists say their proposed campaign will demonstrate that the big banks and finance companies “still have political strength and…making them a political target will carry a severe political cost.” Specifically, the lobbyists propose a major investment in Senate races to threaten the careers of candidates who might try to hold Wall Street accountable. In addition to intimidating politicians who might propose new regulations, they’d also “provide political cover for political figures who defend the industry.”

The polite term for this is “political strategy.” The accurate term is “protection racket.”

They are who we thought they were: well-connected political operatives trying to use big money to discredit a popular movement and tilt the political system even further towards their own interests. And they wouldn’t bother writing this memo if they didn’t think the 99 percent movement was powerful.

The depiction of the 99 percent and Occupy protests as fringe, radical, anti-American, violent or culturally alien is a deliberate strategy to prevent people from talking about the real issues. When you hear those attacks, it’s a clear sign that the person making the attacks is scared of how much the message and goals of these uprisings resonate.

We’re already seeing a strong response to our 9 Demands of the 99 Percent campaign—a common-sense set of proposals that would put the interests of working people ahead of those of bank industry lobbyists.

You can expect to see a lot of well-funded attacks on Occupy Wall Street and on politicians who are sympathetic to an agenda for the 99 percent over the coming year. Pundits, right-wing political operatives and think tanks are already working overtime turning corporate money into distracting and dishonest smear campaigns like the one described in this memo. When you see this stuff happening, don’t get discouraged—it means we’ve gotten under their skin.

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