6 Reasons Why Bob Beauprez Is One of the Worst Candidates for Working Families in the 2014 Elections

It’s an election year and we are quickly approaching the time when working families will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote against a whole host of extreme candidates who support policies that limit rights, make it even harder to afford a middle-class life and pad the pockets of their corporate buddies. One of the “Worst Candidates for Working Families in the 2014 Elections” is Bob Beauprez, who is running for governor in Colorado.

1. Beauprez supported legislation that deregulated financial systems, one of the major causes of the 2008 financial crisis that hit Colorado families so hard. [H.R. 2061, introduced 5/3/05; The Denver Post, 6/11/06]

2. He voted for laws to weaken consumer protections. [H.R. 2061, introduced 5/3/05; The Denver Post, 6/11/06]

3. He also voted for laws reducing the supervision of bankers and co-sponsored more than 100 pieces of legislation on taxation and banking that benefited Wall Street at the expense of working families. [H.R. 2061, introduced 5/3/05; The Denver Post, 6/11/06; Library of Congress, accessed 7/30/14]

4. Beauprez voted to enrich his Wall Street friends and even tried to reduce oversight on the bank where he made his $400 million fortune. [Library of Congress, accessed 7/30/14; H.R. 2061, introduced 5/3/05; The Denver Post, 6/11/06]

5. On taxes, Beauprez is even worse, having voted in favor of $774 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while trying to make working families pay a 23% tax on everything they buy. [H.R. 5638, Vote 316, 6/2/06; The Denver Post, 10/7/06]

6. At the extreme right-wing sight Townhall.com, Beauprez endorsed “right to work” legislation that does nothing but strip rights from workers, and he was a keynote speaker at a right to work convention in New Orleans. [Townhall.com, 7/14/12]

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Wall Street Reform Passes the Senate

On a vote of 59 to 39, the Senate passed its version of financial regulatory reform last night. Most observers I’ve been reading feel that it’s a stronger bill than originally expected, while not as strong as many would have liked.

The bill next goes to a House-Senate conference committee, where it is to be merged with a version passed last year in the House.

Here’s a sampling from some of the early reporting following the Senate’s action, in no particular order:

McClatchy:

The Senate Thursday night passed the most sweeping changes in government regulation of the nation’s financial institutions since the Great Depression, including strong new consumer and investor protections and provisions that seek to shine a bright light on the dark corners of Wall Street.

In a 59-39 vote, four Republicans joined 53 Democrats and two independents in approving the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. Two Democrats, Washington’s Maria Cantwell and Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, as well as 37 Republicans, voted no.

Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, as well as Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Charles Grassley of Iowa voted yes; Democrats Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who lost in Tuesday’s primary, didn’t vote.

The House of Representatives passed a similar version, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, six months ago. The two bills must now be reconciled in negotiations between the two chambers, passed anew by each and sent to President Barack Obama for his signature, which is expected by July 4.

“Our goal is not to punish the banks, but to protect the larger economy and the American people,” Obama said Thursday.

[The bill] also would create a new independent entity — called the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection — to write rules for consumer credit products such as mortgages, student loans and credit cards, aimed at preventing predatory lending and creative loans of the sort that got so many homeowners in trouble.

“If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a student loan, or a mortgage, you know the feeling of signing your name to pages of barely understandable fine print,” Obama said Thursday. “It’s a big step for most families, but one that’s often filled with unnecessary confusion and apprehension. As a result, many Americans are simply duped into hidden fees and loans they just can’t afford by companies that know exactly what they’re doing.”

Yglesias:

The Senate avoided the recent custom of the minority engaging in maximum obstruction to slow down the passage of a law that has the votes to pass, and wound up voting in favor of an overhaul of Wall Street regulation last night: “The vote was 59 to 39, with four Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor of the bill. Two Democrats opposed the measure, saying it was still not tough enough.”

Next up, the bill needs to be merged with the House version of regulatory reform that passed last summer. In this case the House and Senate bills are different in non-trivial ways on pretty much all the major fronts—resolution authority, prudential regulation, consumer protection, and derivatives—so it’s not totally obvious how this is going to play out. Another interesting issue will be the vote count in the House when the bill comes out again. The House version of the legislation was a classic Obama-era bill that passed by a razor-thin margin with no Republicans in favor and many moderate Democrats against. The Senate bill, by contrast, had four Republican yesses and two nos from the left.

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:

In a vote of 59-39, the Senate passed the financial reform bill. At the last moment, Wall Street got another win. They convinced Sen. Brownback to pull his car-dealer protection act so that the Merkley-Levin Volker rule amendment would also be withdrawn. Since it had been attached as a second degree amendment to Brownback, it’s fate was linked.

It’s not as strong a bill on the whole as it certainly should have been. But two warriors against Wall Street are philosophical in their view of the bill. Here’s Byron Dorgan and Bernie Sanders, talking to TPM’s Brian Beutler.

“I forced a vote on naked credit default swaps–banning naked credit default swaps,” Dorgan told me after casting in with his party. Dorgan’s amendment was tabled, but he regards the vote on a motion to table as a referendum on the legislation itself. Those 57 senators who voted to table his legislation were, in effect, voting against it.

But ultimately, he simply wasn’t interested in killing it. “This bill is short of what Congress should do, but it moves in the right direction, although it moves less aggressively than I would like to see it move,” Dorgan added. “Unlike some years ago when the issue was a piece of legislation, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, was I think just fundamentally wrong. I was very interested in stopping it. In this case I’m very interested in starting a piece of legislation that is constructively financial reform.”

….

“I think this is a step forward, there’s no question about that,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told reporters after today’s vote. “I think it brings much greater regulation, I think it brings much greater transparency. But I think, frankly, it is nowhere near as strong as it could be. I think at the end of the day we are going to have to address the need to break up these very very huge financial institutions, which I believe, that if they start teetering in the future they will have to be bailed out, and that’s why you ought to break them up now.”

Dorgan agrees. “As long as our country has financial institutions too big to fail, I think you’re going to have failure,” Dorgan told me. “And I think ultimately the taxpayers will be called upon to bail them out.”

The fact that the Merkley-Levin amendment did not get a vote is a clear set-back for progressive efforts to strengthen the reform bill. It would have given real teeth to the so-called Volcker Rule, inserting specific restrictions on things like risky proprietary trading and hedge fund ownership by commercial banks. The bill approved last night simply empowers regulators to study what those rules might be — at best kicking that particular can down the road.

Tim Fernholz at TAPPED:

After a tense afternoon of votes stretched into the evening, the Senate passed its financial-reform legislation, setting the stage for negotiations with the House to craft a final package that will be voted on once more by both chambers before arriving on President Obama’s desk.

After the Democrats, joined by three Republicans, successfully overcame efforts to block a vote on the bill in the afternoon, 30 hours were allotted before final passage — unless Republicans could be convinced to dispense with the debate and any additional amendments.

Particularly at stake was an amendment from Sam Brownback to exempt auto dealers from consumer regulation and another amendment proposed by Sens. Merkley and Levin to strengthen a measure already in the bill to limit the kinds of risky business banks can engage in.

While the Merkley-Levin amendment could not be voted on post-cloture due to a technicality, in a clever bit of legislative jujitsu, the two attached their amendment to Brownback’s as a second-order amendment, meaning that both would have to be voted on together to enter the bill. Reformers opposed Brownback and supported Merkley-Levin, but could at least see stronger restrictions on Wall Street if Brownback succeeded.

Republicans, however, proved reluctant to force another symbolic vote that would reveal their support of Wall Street. Brownback pulled his amendment, leading to an agreement on how to proceed: After a procedural objection from Republicans that required 60 votes to set aside, voting for final passage began at approximately 8:45. The bill passed 59-39; Democrats Maria Cantwell and Russ Feingold registered their opposition from the left after amendments to strengthen the bill were left to languish, while four Republicans — Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown — crossed the aisle to support the bill. (Two senators, Robert Byrd and Arlen Specter, did not vote.)

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Strengthening Wall Street Reform

wall-street-signAs the Senate has begun to take up several important amendments that could strengthen the Wall Street reform bill, I’d been trying to recall where I first heard this phrase:

“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big period.”

I just remembered! It was Robert Reich on his old blog back in October of 2008 around the time of the Bush administration’s big bank bailouts. And, of course, in the wake of those bailouts the biggest of the big financial institutions got even bigger and more dominant.

One of the key amendments being debated to strengthen the Wall Street reform bill is one based on the Safe Banking Act, and it’s being offered by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE).

It would address “too big to fail” by limiting the size and leverage of financial institutions:

Size Limits on Our Largest Financial Institutions

* Imposes a strict 10% cap on any bank holding company’s or thrift holding company’s share of the total amount of deposits of insured depository institutions in the United States.

* Establishes limits on the liabilities of large banking and nonbanking financial institutions:

* A limit on the non-deposit liabilities (including off-balance-sheet ones) of a bank holding company or thrift holding company of 2% of GDP.

* A limit on the overall liabilities (including off-balance-sheet ones) of any non-bank financial institution – i.e. one that the proposed Financial Stability Oversight Council deems a risk to the financial system – regulated by the Federal Reserve of 3% of GDP.

Institute Statutory Leverage Ratio

* Codifies a 6% leverage limit for bank holding companies and selected nonbank financial institutions into law.

The New York Times is reporting that the Brown-Kaufman amendment “is among the most deeply dreaded by Wall Street,” and could become the “hardest to defeat.”

Liberal Democrats in the Senate, emboldened by a wave of populism, are trying to make financial regulatory legislation far tougher on Wall Street, potentially restricting or breaking up the biggest banks and financial companies.

The liberal amendment that could be hardest to defeat — and is among the most deeply dreaded by Wall Street — also has some of the purest populist appeal: a proposal by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware to break up the nation’s biggest banks by imposing caps on the deposits they can hold and limits on other liabilities.

On Tuesday, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, announced that he would support the Brown-Kaufman proposal, which would require some of Wall Street’s heaviest hitters, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, to shrink in size. On Wednesday, the majority leader, Harry Reid, called the proposal “intriguing.”

The website at A New Way Forward is now reporting via a whip count page on the Brown-Kaufman amendment that Majority Leader Reid is listed as a supporter — and just added Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) as a supporter as well.

Americans for Financial Reform supports the Brown-Kaufman amendment. The folks at A New Way Forward have Brown-Kaufman amendment action page where you can sign a petition and connect with your Senators to urge their support.

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Talkin’ Wall Street Reform in the Senate

The Senate is set to begin debate tomorrow on numerous amendments to the Wall Street reform bill. Here’s a rundown on some of the latest coverage from the blogs.

At Daily Kos mcjoan writes about several key amendments that are expected, including one from Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ted Kaufman (D-DE) to limit bank size and scope:

The author of one of the key amendments, the SAFE Banking Act, says he doesn’t have the votes yet.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he lacks the votes right now to advance his amendment limiting the size of banks.

Brown held out hope that the measure, which he’s offered along with Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), could win enough support to pass as the Senate debate moves forward.

“I don’t think we do yet,” Brown told Bloomberg’s “Political Capital” when asked if he has the votes. “I think a week ago we weren’t even close. I think this weekend we’re closer.”

Politico has a lengthy rundown which includes this on amendments expected from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont:

Sanders is pushing two amendments — one to cap the interest rates offered by credit cards at 15 percent and a second requiring the Federal Reserve to divulge the names of financial institutions that have received low-interest loans.

The latter is being hotly resisted by the Fed itself, which argues that financial institutions need anonymity to take the loans, but the amendment has support from five Democrats and 10 Republicans, including Sens. John McCain, David Vitter, Jim DeMint and Chuck Grassley. The House bill includes a version of it pushed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Sanders said he is also supporting the Kaufman-Brown amendment. “People are loosely working together. We’re going to fight for each other’s amendments and make sure this bill comes out as strong as it can possibly be.”

And Bloomberg is reporting that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who is managing the Wall Street reform bill on the floor as chairman of the Banking Committee, expects Republicans will try to weaken consumer financial protection every which way:

Dodd predicted in an April 30 floor speech that Republicans will bring up “a ton of amendments to try to undermine” the bureau. An agency to inform borrowers is needed because the sale of “bad mortgages” was “where the fires began that nearly consumed our economy,” he said.

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Shilling for Wall Street

Delay, obstruct, repeat.

For a second time in as many days, U.S. Senate Republicans mustered enough votes on Tuesday to block debate of a Democratic bill that would bring the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the 1930s.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats want tighter rules on banks and capital markets to prevent a repeat of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which tipped the economy into a deep recession and unleashed reform efforts worldwide.

Three full years after the initial bursting of Wall Street’s $8 trillion housing bubble, more than two years after the start of the Great Recession, and more than a year and half after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Republicans are blocking a Wall Street reform bill from even being brought up for debate on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans blocked the reform bill yesterday. And Laura nailed them on their shilling for Wall Street even before yesterday’s vote. In reality, the minority Republicans are trying to dictate the terms of the bill behind closed doors. They want something that Wall Street would find acceptable. They don’t want real reform. At best they want Swiss cheese.

Without blinking an eye, Republicans voted to block Wall Street reform again today, even while four Republican Senators appeared to join Democrats in excoriating witnesses from Goldman Sachs at a day-long hearing of the Senate’s Permanent Investigations subcommittee. Oh, they’re appalled alright by the dangerous manipulations, excesses and greed on Wall Street. But do they want to do anything to stop it?

Nope. And so it’s still business as usual for the big banks.

By not allowing the reform bill to even come to the floor for debate, the Republicans have forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to continue to file cloture motions to proceed. Another cloture vote will likely happen again tomorrow. Every time these fail, there’s more debate about why they can’t actually debate the bill. But do Republicans have anything to offer?

Nope. From David Waldman at Congress Matters:

But in the meantime, we’re stuck here in the absurd position of having Republicans demanding more debate on whether or not to begin debate, without actually showing up to debate it.

And the longer they delay, the longer they obstruct, the more they are getting hammered. CNN’s Jack Cafferty:

2/3 of Americans support financial reform, but Senate GOP blocks it

Here we go again. Yet another example of our representatives in Washington not listening to what the people want.

Despite the fact that two-thirds of Americans support tougher regulation of banks and Wall Street… Republicans have already voted unanimously to block financial reform from reaching the senate floor – and they might do it again minutes from now when another test vote happens.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 65 percent of those surveyed want stricter financial reform. 31 percent are opposed.

The poll also shows majorities back two key parts of the senate bill… including greater government oversight of consumer loans… and a fund – paid for by the banks – that would help dismantle failing institutions. According to this poll, the public is split on letting the government regulate complex financial instruments knows as derivatives.

Also – by a double-digit margin, Americans trust Pres. Obama more than the Republicans in Congress to handle financial reform…

Not a huge surprise when you consider how the GOP is handing this.

Keep it up. With Main Street working people and the unemployed now taking to the streets demanding good jobs and to make Wall Street pay, it’s time to tell the Senate to act on the strongest possible Wall Street reform.

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Lunchtime Links

In lieu of sausage…

Paul Krugman’s column today — “Don’t Cry for Wall Street” — is truly a must-read. Snippets:

The fact is that Mr. Obama should be trying to do what’s right for the country — full stop. If doing so hurts the bankers, that’s O.K.

More than that, reform actually should hurt the bankers. A growing body of analysis suggests that an oversized financial industry is hurting the broader economy. Shrinking that oversized industry won’t make Wall Street happy, but what’s bad for Wall Street would be good for America.

In the years leading up to the 2008 crisis, the financial industry accounted for a third of total domestic profits — about twice its share two decades earlier.

These profits were justified, we were told, because the industry was doing great things for the economy. It was channeling capital to productive uses; it was spreading risk; it was enhancing financial stability. None of those were true. Capital was channeled not to job-creating innovators, but into an unsustainable housing bubble; risk was concentrated, not spread; and when the housing bubble burst, the supposedly stable financial system imploded, with the worst global slump since the Great Depression as collateral damage.

An intriguing proposal is about to be unveiled from, of all places, the International Monetary Fund. In a leaked paper prepared for a meeting this weekend, the fund calls for a Financial Activity Tax — yes, FAT — levied on financial-industry profits and remuneration.

Such a tax, the fund argues, could “mitigate excessive risk-taking.” It could also “tend to reduce the size of the financial sector,” which the fund presents as a good thing.

The Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Konczal has put together a handy guide (pdf) to the critical elements and possible amendments still in play in the Wall Street reform plan.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance last week were a seasonally adjusted 456,000 — a decline of 24,000 from the previous week, but still well above 400,000 as they have been every week since early September of 2008.

A report this week from the San Francisco Federal Reserve rebuffs the recent assertion by the Wall Street Journal that extended unemployment benefits are themselves a key factor causing higher unemployment and longer-term unemployment.

The House Education and Labor Committee announced the release of detailed estimates of the number of jobs that would be created, restored or saved by the Local Jobs for America Act. The bill, which would support an estimated one million full-time local public service jobs with benefits over two years, now has 151 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. If you don’t see your House member listed, you can call toll-free 888-254-5087 and urge them to become a co-sponsor of Rep. George Miller’s Local Jobs for America Act (H.R. 4812).

And this coming Thursday, April 29, I plan to be in New York City for a little meet up:

RALLY & MARCH ON WALL STREET with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Thu, Apr 29, 2010
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Wall Street tanked America’s economy, killed jobs, took $700 billion in taxpayer bailouts—then went right back to business as usual, choking off credit, handing out $145 billion in 2009 executive pay and bonuses and fighting meaningful financial reform.

We’re 11 million jobs in the hole and it’s time for the financial industry to pay up to create them.

Join AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and thousands of union and community activists from across the country marching down Broadway in the heart of the financial district on April 29 to MAKE WALL STREET PAY.

See you there. For information contact the New York City Central Labor Council at 212-604-9552 or www.nycclc.org.

Address
Broadway and Barclay
New York, NY

Map and directions. See you there!

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All Taking, No Giving

Under the headline “Banks receiving government aid cut loans” in this morning’s USA Today:

Banks that received federal assistance during the financial crisis reduced lending more aggressively and gave bigger pay raises to employees than institutions that didn’t get aid, a USA TODAY/American University review found.

tarp-banks When the Bush administration’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson first demanded the TARP funds from Congress in late 2008, he said they would be used to buy the “troubled assets” on bank balance sheets. But that idea was rather fleeting, replaced quickly with the scheme of simply giving the funds principally to the biggest banks to shore up their capital needs.

Throwing money at the banks with no strings attached — virtually no compensation provisions and no requirements to generate lending — allowed Wall Street to survive, prosper and go right back to business as usual.

Without a robust revival of lending, especially to small- and mid-sized businesses, private sector job growth will continue to be inadequate by any measure. Meanwhile, the biggest Wall Street firms, having benefited from the Bush administration’s bailouts, are again generating mega-profits and mega-bonuses trading all manner of higher-risk instruments.

While the outlines of the Wall Street reform plan taking shape in the Senate are generally strong and sound, whether they will be enough to force a real change in the way the financial sector either helps or hinders Main Street remains to be seen.

That’s why it will be important to watch how the plan might be strengthened. Look in particular for possible amendments from Senators such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ted Kaufman of Delaware that could limit the size and scope of banks. It is possible that Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who was the Senate’s most outspoken critic of the deregulation of Wall Street in 1999, may offer his own amendments to strengthen the regulatory system. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington is also said to be considering a revived Glass-Steagall provision to once again separate commercial banks from securities trading and investment banking.

Those are just some of the things that will need to be done to make Wall Street reform potent enough to force at least a greater portion of the financial sector toward doing the job of aiding, instead of undermining, jobs and the economy.

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It’s Business as Usual on Wall Street

First quarter 2010 earnings reports have been rolling in from the big Wall Street banks, and thus far the combined profits from the four largest topped $15 billion.

This morning Goldman Sachs, which has been accused of securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), reported its first quarter earnings at $3.46 billion.

With its results, Goldman became the fourth major bank to report this quarter, all benefiting from hefty trading profits. JPMorgan reported a profit of $3.3 billion, Bank of America earned $4.2 billion and Citigroup $4.4 billion. (emphasis added)

“Hefty trading profits” indeed. The New York Times reports:

In the first quarter, the bank’s bond, commodities and currency trading once again bolstered the results.

In addition, Goldman said it had set aside 43 percent of revenue in the first quarter for employee salaries and bonuses, down from 50 percent for the period a year ago.

In a statement, the chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein said that the results reflected “more signs of growth across the economy and the strength of our client franchise.”

Like I said, business as usual. Need I add that these are the same firms that were allowed to run amok, building a house of cards on top of asset bubbles which, when it all came down, tossed 8 million Americans out of work, 7 million out of their homes and virtually destroyed the income security of generations of Americans?

And just what “signs of growth” does Mr. Lloyd C. Blankfein see “reflected” in these “earnings”? I’d venture to say it’s the growth in what’s lining his and his fellow bankers’ pockets.

Just check out the banksters’ case studies at the AFL-CIO’s Executive PayWatch 2010. Really – check it out.

Want to know how to fund a real jobs-growth recovery?
Three little words: Tax the Banks!

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