Getting Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Banking Committee, and Other Potential Good Committee News

Monday, November 26th, 2012

As we’ve discussed previously, one of the big victories from the 2012 Elections is that Democrats will have a larger, more progressive Senate majority in the 113th Congress.  In order to turn that majority into progressive accomplishments over the next two years, we will need to do a few key things.  For example, reforming the filibuster is absolutely critical, as we will discuss in a future post.  Making sure the Obama Administration steps up its judicial appointments while Democrats control the Senate is very important. And, of course, continuing to support our Senators when they do right and pressuring them when they need to do better is key.

Another important element in making sure the Democrat’s Senate majority will be productive will be decided over the next few weeks as the Senate Democratic leadership hands out committee assignments.  Senate committees are important because they serve as filters of what issues do and do not make it onto the Senate agenda, and because they have oversight and investigative powers, including the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas.  While most Committee members will stay the same in the new Senate, new Senators will get assignments, retiring Senators will need to be replaced, and there will some changes in Committee leaders.  These changes opens up the opportunity for one very important assignment and is expected to lead to other positive changes.

Warren to the Senate Banking Committee?

Short of re-electing President Obama, perhaps the most exciting victory for progressives in the 2012 elections was Elizabeth Warren winning a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts by defeating GOP Sen. Scott Brown.  Senator-elect Warren, of course, is the Harvard law professor who has spent much of her career fighting for the types of banking, financial, and bankruptcy law reforms that are critical to strengthening our economy and our middle class.  Perhaps most notably, Ms. Warren was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is charged with cracking down on unscrupulous financial services companies by enforcing a wide array of consumer protections.

It would be wonderful to have Senator Warren bring her expertise, experience, and passion for fighting for progressive values to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, which has jurisdiction over, among other things, banks and other financial institutions, deposit insurance, federal monetary policy, and money and credit.  Just imagine having Senator Warren helping to craft legislation regulating Wall Street, having oversight powers over agencies charged with regulating banks, and getting to question witnesses at Committee hearings.

There will be two seats open on the Banking Committee in the new Congress, and Ms. Warren appears likely to get one of them.  Leading Democrats on the Committee, such as Jack Reed (D-RI) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) have made statements supportive of Senator Warren joining them, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has announced that she does not intend to seek a seat on that Committee.  Wall Street and big banks, however,  are lobbying furiously behind the scenes to try to keep Warren off the Committee.

To help get Senator Warren on the Banking Committee, sign this petition and call Senator Harry Reid – 202-224-3542 – and urge him to give the seat to this well-qualified, progressive advocate for the middle class and sensible financial reform.

Patty Murray (D-WA) to head Senate Budget Committee

In another piece of good Senate news, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will be taking the helm of the Senate Budget Committee, as the current chair, centrist Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) is retiring.  Senator Murray has long been a progressive supporter of protecting Social Security and Medicare from conservative attempts at privatization. Perhaps even more importantly, Senator Murray has significant experience over the past few years of dealing with, and refusing to accede to unreasonable demands of, Republicans in the endless loop of budget deficit negotiations that have taken place over the past two years.  For example, as the Washington Post recently reported:

Her perspective is born in part from the last tough task Reid handed her, chairing last year’s bipartisan “supercommittee,” a 12-member panel that tried, but ultimately failed, to come up with a major deficit reduction package acceptable to both parties.

Murray spent long hours behind closed doors with House and Senate Republicans and emerged convinced the GOP was offering only damaging proposals to cut health, education and environmental programs without agreeing to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes.

. . . .

In the crunch of final negotiations over a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling last summer, it was Murray who nixed the idea of exposing veterans benefits to automatic domestic and military spending cuts that would result if Congress does not reach a more targeted deficit-reduction deal by the end of this month.

. . . .

It was Murray, too, who had counseled Democrats in April 2011 to reject a last-minute demand by House Republicans to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood in a spending bill designed to avoid a government shutdown.

More recently, Ms. Murray has been urging Democrats for months to be willing to go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” rather than to give in to unreasonable Republican proposals.  We’re hopeful that, as Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Murray will be able to continue to play a key role in ensuring that any budget deals focus on funding critical needs, protecting earned benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security, increasing revenue, and cutting spending in a balanced manner.

Tom Carper (D-DE) likely to head Homeland Security Committee

A third piece of good Senate Committee news it that with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) finally getting out of the Senate, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which oversees what has been a gradual undermining of civil liberties over the past decade, will be chaired by the more reasonable Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.).  While Senator Carper is not exactly known for being a staunch advocate for civil liberties, he has compiled a far better record than Senator Lieberman’s in recent years.  For example, the ACLU’s 2009-2010 legislator ratings were 93% for Carper, and only 57% for Lieberman.  Similarly, in a 2007 vote to give habeas corpus rights to people detained by the US – Carper voted yes, Lieberman voted no.  And in the December 2011 votes on the National Defense Authorization Act, which included some disturbing provisions regarding the indefinite detention of individuals under the guise of the “war on terror,” Senator Carper voted to remove requirement of military detention of Al-Qaeda suspects and associated forces, prohibit military detention without trial of US citizens, and prohibit military detention without trial of individuals captured in the US, and voted against a proposal to allow for further military detention even if an individual had received a trial.  Senator Lieberman took the opposite position on all four of those votes.  So, here’s hoping that the Senate Homeland Security Committee will be more interested in securing, rather than trampling, our civil liberties in 2013.

Bernie Sanders likely to head Senate Veteran’s Committee

With Senator Murray taking the helm at the Budget Committee, her seat as Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will be open.  And it is expected to be filled by Senator Bernie Sanders, who has long been a strong advocate on veteran’s issues.  As an article in the Marine Corp Times explains:

Sanders, who refers to himself as a socialist, has been among the lawmakers pushing the hardest to expand the reach of veterans’ programs, especially health care. He also has strongly opposed budget-cutting initiatives to trim or cap military benefits. For example, he opposes a proposal to save money by changing how cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for Social Security, military retirement and veterans’ disability benefits, because it would slightly reduce annual increases.

Sanders, who never served in the military, also has been a strong advocate for providing better help and benefits for National Guard and reserve members returning from mobilization. He has proposed a big expansion, with the federal government fully making up for any income lost during deployments because of differences between military and private-sector salaries.

Celebrating Victory

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Progressives and Democrats had a really great Election Day yesterday, re-electing President Obama, winning a larger and more progressive Senate majority, defeating a number of Tea Party Republican House members, and advancing the cause of marriage equality, among other victories.  And we did all of this in the face of hundreds of millions of dollars of spending by shadowy conservative groups aided by a media that ranges from mindless pox-on-both-houses coverage to conservative apologists. In short, we have much to celebrate.

Over the next two years, we will be faced with many critical issues and policies to debate, long difficult fights to advance the progressive cause, and setbacks and disappointments.  But part of being able to win those debates and fights, and to get through the inevitable disappointments is to celebrate our successes, which is something that we progressives tend not to do very well.  Instead, we progressives are often so focused on identifying problems and working to fix them that we do not take the time to savor our victories.  Winning Progressive urges us all to temporarily resist the urge to dive right back into the next fight and, instead, take a day or two to celebrate what we have achieved in this election.

Here are just some of the victories we should be celebrating:

President Obama Re-Elected – The biggest prize yesterday, of course, was President Obama’s re-election. As of this writing, President Obama had won at least 303 electoral votes, including every swing state except North Carolina.  If, as is looking likely, Florida is won by the President, he would end up with a 335 vote electoral victory.  And as of 3:30am eastern time, the New York Times was reporting an approximately 1.8 million popular vote advantage for President Obama, with the bulk of votes remaining to be counted in Democratic states such as California, Washington, and Oregon.  While Obama’s margins are smaller than they were in 2008, yesterday’s victory is still a strong endorsement of Obama’s first term and his sensible, moderately progressive governance.

A Larger, More Progressive Senate Majority – As WP explained in early October, this election presented an opportunity to gain a more progressive Senate with the election of Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), along with the re-election of Sherrod Brown in Ohio.  All five of those candidates won!  And despite having 21 seats to defend, Democrats have so far lost only one Senate seat (in Nebraska), though seats in Montana and North Dakota are still to be decided.  If we win those two seats, we will end up with a 55 vote majority.  And another step towards full equality was taken with the election of the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator in our nation’s history – Tammy Baldwin.

First Electoral Victories for Marriage Equality – With our nation making steady progress towards full LGBT equality, one of the few arguments anti-equality activists had to fall back on is that marriage equality had never prevailed in a popular vote.  That claim can no longer be made, as marriage equality has now prevailed at the ballot box in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota, and appears likely to win in Washington State.

Leading House Tea Partiers Defeated – One disappointing area yesterday was in House elections, where Democrats picked up little ground. But even there, we won some victories.  Most significantly, a number of Tea Party members – including Allen West (FL), Chip Cravaack (MN), Bobby Schilling (IL), Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Ann-Marie Buerkle (NY), Francisco Canseco (TX), and Joe Walsh (IL) – were defeated, while the race against Michelle Bachmann is still too close to call as of 3am Wednesday morning.  Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, which was held by now-US Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) for many years, is finally back in Democratic hands with Brad Schneider’s victory. And with both House seats in New Hampshire being won by Democrats, there is not a single Republican member of the House in all six New England states.

The Road to a More Progressive Senate in 2013

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The importance of a functioning, more progressive U.S. Senate has been starkly demonstrated over the last three-and-a-half years.  While significant progressive victories have been achieved during President Obama’s first term, far too often progressive goals on job creation, health care reform, Wall Street reform, climate change, etc. were stymied or watered down in a U.S. Senate that is clearly broken.

The problem in the Senate is two-fold.  First, Senate Republicans have carried out a strategy of historically unprecedented obstructionism involving filibustering or threatening to filibuster virtually every major piece of legislation and most nominees (for example even President Obama’s non-controversial appellate judge nominees were held up by Senate Republicans by an average of 227 days). Contrary to common misconceptions, the Democrats had a filibuster proof majority for only 72 days during President Obama’s first term.  As such, virtually all legislation had to be crafted in ways that they would gain the support of all Democratic Senators and one or more Republicans which, of course, limited how progressive legislative proposals could be.

If the Democrats hold the Senate this November, the obstructionism problem can be largely addressed by reforming the filibuster rules.  Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has committed to filibuster reform in the new Senate, admitting that it was a mistake for him not to pursue such reform last time around.  As we’ve explained previously, filibuster reform should involve shifting the burden of maintaining the filibuster to the 40 Senators who are filibustering, speeding up the time in which a filibuster can be challenged, and ending filibusters of Presidential nominees.

A second problem with the Senate over the past three-and-a-half years is that a number of the Senators that made up the Democratic majority were far from progressive.  Basically any legislation that was proposed had to get the votes of Senators Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, and Blanche Lincoln, none of whom could be considered progressive.

The good news is that we have a great opportunity at a far more progressive Democratic Senate caucus in 2013, with five races that should be of critical importance to progressives throughout the country.  The key to achieving that result, however, is for all of us progressives to get involved in making sure we win these races.  Below are links for getting involved by volunteering, contributing to their campaigns, and writing letters to the editor in support of these progressive candidates.

Tammy Baldwin - Wisconsin

* Campaign website   *Facebook page   * Contribute    * Volunteer    * Wisconsin newspapers

In Wisconsin, we have the opportunity to elect a strong progressive and the first openly-lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Baldwin is vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has compiled a strongly progressive voting record in her seven terms in the House.  Rep. Baldwin voted against the Iraq War, opposed repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, is the lead House sponsor of the Buffett Rule to require millionaires and billionaires to pay more of their fair share, is a strong supporter of marriage equality and was lead sponsor of legislation ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, is a strong supporter of single payer health insurance and of including a public option in health care reform, and voted against the NDAA.  Rep. Baldwin would replace Sen. Herb Kohl who, while a decent Democrat, had a more moderate voting record than Rep. Baldwin does.

 

Sherrod Brown – Ohio

* Campaign website   * Facebook page   * Contribute   * Volunteer    * Ohio newspapers 

The only incumbent on our list, Senator Sherrod Brown has long been known as an economic populist and tireless advocate for middle class Americans.  Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving in the House since 1993, Senator Brown has compiled a voting record that most any progressive should be proud of.  He is a strong advocate for protecting Social Security and Medicare, strengthening labor unions, and returning manufacturing jobs to the US.  Senator Brown voted against the Iraq War and was one of only 65 House members to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.  He is leading the charge in the Senate to overturn Citizens United and has voted numerous times to preserve the estate tax and to end the capital gains tax loophole.  Re-electing Senator Brown can help show that a progressive economic populism presents a promising future for Democrats in the Midwest and elsewhere.

 

Mazie Hirono – Hawaii

* Campaign website   * Facebook page    * Contribute     * Volunteer    * Hawaii newspaper links

The Democratic candidate for US Senate in Hawaii is Mazie Hirono, who is currently a Congresswoman and member of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus.  Rep. Hirono was born in Fukushima, Japan and came to Hawaii at the age of five when her mother escaped an abusive marriage.    After attending the University of Hawaii and Georgetown University Law School, she served as a state representative from 1980 to 1994, and then as Lieutenant Governor from 1994 to 2002.  In 2006, Rep. Hirono was elected to Congress, where, according to the website Progressive Punch, she has the fourth most progressive voting record of any current representative.   Rep. Hirono supports single payer health insurance, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, opposed the Iraq War from the very beginning, and has been a vocal advocate for “Pre-K” legislation that would provide federal financing and support for improving and expanding early childhood education.

 

Chris Murphy – Connecticut

* Campaign website   * Facebook page   * Contribute    * Volunteer    * Connecticut newspaper links

Perhaps the biggest improvement in the U.S. Senate can come in Connecticut, where Senator Joseph Lieberman is, thankfully, retiring, and can be replaced by Rep. Chris Murphy.   A self-described progressive, Rep. Murphy summarized his views as follows:

I am a progressive when it comes to my views on the war and when it comes to my views on the environment and health care. I believe in universal health care. I believe in a strong environment. I believe in a fair tax code that ends up with higher rates for the affluent. I believe we should get out of Afghanistan and Iraq. And I believe that I should argue very strongly for those things.

While in the House, Rep. Murphy supported public financing of campaigns, marriage equality, and climate legislation, was a leading voice in favor of including a public option in the health care reform law, and voted no on the NDAA,

 

Elizabeth Warren – U.S. Senate – Massachusetts

* campaign website   * Facebook page    * Contribute      * Volunteer    * Massachusetts newspaper links

In Massachusetts, we have the opportunity not only to pick up a seat from the Republicans, but also to elect to the U.S. Senate one of the strongest advocates middle and working class Americans have had in decades.  A law school professor, Ms. Warren has spent her career focusing on how financial interests are causing untold harm to the economic vibrancy of our middle class and on how we can fix that problem.  Perhaps her biggest achievement to date is the establishment of a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protect Bureau (“CFPB”), which is charged with helping  curb economic abuses by enforcing a wide array of consumer protections, including the new credit card industry reforms signed by President Obama, and consolidating enforcement of consumer protections that are currently handled by seven different agencies.  The CFPB’s goal is to make the pricing and risks of financial products offered by these entities much clearer and fairer to the American public so that payday lenders, etc. are no longer able to prey on the most financially vulnerable among us.  Now we need Ms. Warren in the Senate so that she can defend the CFPB against GOP attacks and fight for a fairer economy.

 

ECONned, Part III: Insuring Financial Stability

Friday, August 17th, 2012

(By NCrissie B)

I’ve been considering Yves Smith’s 2010 book ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism. In my first post, I looked at the economic theory that enabled the Great Recession. In the next post I examined how blind faith in that theory led to deregulation, looting, and the shadow banking system collapse. Today I conclude with Smith’s proposed remedies and our ideas for talking with median voters like our archetypal Fred.

Yves Smith is the founder of Naked Capitalism and has over 25 years experience in finance. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, she has worked in corporate finance for Goldman Sachs, was the head of mergers and acquisitions for Sumitomo Bank, and currently heads Aurora Advisors in New York City. She has written for The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and several other print and online publications.

The Story of Shady Eddie

Shady Eddie’s business card says he’s an electrician, and he is, sort of. Most electricians’ make a tough living, but Eddie and his bosses are raking in the dough. What’s their secret?

For starters, he uses complex, ‘innovative’ wiring schemes that use fewer and cheaper materials. Eddie’s bosses don’t understand his wiring schemes, but they’re making money so they don’t look too hard. City code enforcers don’t understand Eddie’s work either, but his company’s fees pay their salaries so they sign off on the permits. He also gets do to the rewiring when customer have problems, because no one else knows how to fix his work.

But even cutting corners on materials and getting the rewiring jobs aren’t Eddie’s real business secret. He knows that, sooner or later, at least some of the buildings he’s wired will have electrical fires. So he buys fire insurance. He makes a nice profit on the initial installations, gets paid again on the rewiring jobs, and gets yet another payday when the insurance check comes in.

Of course, Shady Eddie is only an electrician, so once the city catches on to him he’ll be charged with insurance fraud, at the very least. If only he’d become an investment banker instead….

Why They’re Not In Jail

Yves Smith explains that credit default swaps – the highly-leveraged bets that exploded the global economy in 2008 – are basically insurance policies against the failure of an underlying derivative. Many traders who set up those credit default swaps on mortgage-based derivatives knew the housing bubble would burst soon. In fact, many were structured so the trader stood to profit most when homeowners defaulted and the credit default swaps paid off. Like Eddie’s ‘creative’ wiring schemes, the mortgages were set up to fail, providing refinancing fees for mortgage brokers and bonuses for traders packaging those mortgages into derivatives. And as with Eddie’s scam, the traders convinced companies like AIG to guarantee credit default swaps if the mortgages failed.

But unlike Eddie, those credit default swaps were not regulated as insurance policies, so the traders weren’t committing insurance fraud … at least not under the law.

Shining a Light on Shadow Banking

Changing the law to regulate credit default swaps as insurance policies – not reinstating Glass-Steagall or breaking up ‘too big to fail’ banks – is Smith’s most compelling reform proposal. She concedes that credit default swaps are now so central to the ‘market-based credit’ model that the swaps cannot be shut down. But they can and must be regulated, including rules that require those who buy or sell swaps to have an insurable interest in the derivative on which the swap is based.

Smith acknowledges that regulating credit default swaps as insurance policies would increase the cost of the swaps, thus increasing the cost of the derivative bonds being insured, thus requiring the bonds to pay and the lenders to charge higher interest rates. In plain language, regulating the swaps as insurance would make credit more expensive.

And that, Smith argues, would improve the stability of the global economy. Cheap credit allows too many investors to leverage too much speculation – and creates too many profits for too many bankers – based on too little real productivity. “Finance should be the handmaiden of business,” she writes, “and not its master.”

While Smith does suggest reinstating Glass-Steagall, her reasons are not the reasons you’ll hear in the progressive media. Small commercial banks can be as profitable as larger competitors, because the services they offer do not benefit much by economies of scale. But investment banks benefit greatly by economies of scale. To remain competitive in an international market, investment banks must be ‘too big to fail’ and backed by implicit government guarantees.

A new Glass-Steagall, Smith argues, would both encourage small commercial banks to thrive again and also allow the federal government to treat huge investment banks as public utilities, with what she calls “strict and intrusive” regulations on their risk-taking, accounting, and compensation practices. If investment banks require government support during market crises – and they will – then government must be able to limit the risks being underwritten by We the People.

Alas, Smith acknowledges that enacting these reforms will require both business and political leaders to abandon the myth of Marketopia. She does not believe that will happen until the ‘free market’ dogma has failed so completely that its manifest flaws can no longer be excused away. And on that point I disagree.

President Obama and several other Democrats like Elizabeth Warren are using their 2012 election campaigns to make a case for shared responsibility and regulated markets that allow capitalism to flourish. If we activists do our part to help – including telling archetypal Fred the story of Shady Eddie – polls show that President Obama, Ms. Warren, and other Democrats can win on that case and change our economic dialogue.

Realworldia is not as tidy as the precise formulas of Marketopia. But we live in Realworldia, and our political and economic systems must admit that.

(Crossposted from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute (BPICampus.com))

 

Mr. Cordray Goes to Washington

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

President Obama started 2012 off well yesterday when he made a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). And, despite ridiculous Republican threats to challenge the appointment, Mr. Cordray has immediately gotten to work.  Today, the CFPB announced the launch of its non-bank supervision program, through which it will carefully scrutinize the actions of mortgage companies, payday lenders, and private education lenders to ensure that they are complying with consumer protection laws.  A second phase of the non-bank supervision program is in the works, and will cover debt collectors, auto financing, consumer reporting, and money services businesses.  And Mr. Cordray has vowed not to let Republican squawking slow him down, and has outlined steps the CFPB is taking to crack down on illegal financial activity.

The CFPB and the appointment of Richard Cordray is a real progressive victory delivered by the Obama Administration.  Created by one of the core provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that the Democratic Congress passed in 2010, the CFPB is providing the American people with a long-needed federal regulatory watchdog over some of the sleaziest business sectors, including payday lenders, credit card companies, credit counseling entities, and subprime mortgage lenders.  For far too long, vast portions of the American middle class are being squeezed by unfettered financial service companies that have used all sorts of unscrupulous tactics to maximize profits.   The CFPB is charged with changing this dynamic by enforcing a wide array of consumer protections, including the credit card industry reforms signed by President Obama, and consolidating enforcement of consumer protections that are currently handled by seven different agencies.  The CFPB’s goal is to make the pricing and risks of financial products offered by these entities much clearer and fairer to the American public so that payday lenders, etc. are no longer able to prey on the most financially vulnerable among us.

And Mr. Cordray is a great choice for leading the CFPB, as he has a proven track record of fighting for working families.  For example, in his time as Ohio Attorney General, Cordray was at the forefront of efforts to hold Wall Street accountable for the economic debacle that they created. Faced with widespread foreclosures, declines in pensions, and increases in unemployment due to the casino-like atmosphere that overtook Wall Street, Cordray sought to recover funds from the Wall Street banksters whose fraudulent practices created those problems. And Cordray was successful, as the New York Times explains:

Mr. Cordray in two years in office has demonstrated a willingness to sue early and often, filing lawsuits against global financial houses, rating agencies, subprime lenders and foreclosure scammers. He has wrested about $2 billion so far, a string of gilded pelts: a $475 million Merrill Lynch settlement, $400 million from Marsh & McLennan and $725 million from the American International Group.
. . . .
His office has returned money to investors, pension funds, schools and cities. And he has directed millions to agencies fighting foreclosure.

Yesterday, President Obama and Mr. Cordray met with one of the families in Ohio that were helped by Cordray’s work – William and Enida Eason. As President Obama explained at his speech yesterday announcing Mr. Cordray’s appointment:

If you’re a senior, Richard is going to help make sure you don’t lose your home or your retirement because somebody saw you as an easier target.  And that’s what happened to the Easons.  Endia, who I think is here — Ms. Eason, are you here?  You’re somewhere here.  There’s — Ms. Eason is down there.  Ninety-one years old.   And as I mentioned, Ms. Eason’s husband, William, is a former Marine — also a former boxer.  So don’t mess with him.

And I just want to repeat, 10 years ago they were approached by a broker who offered them a loan to make needed repairs on their home; made everything sound easy.  The Easons agreed.  Broker ended up disappearing.  They get left with $80,000 in debt, almost lose their home.  They didn’t lose it because of the intervention of some terrific non-for-profits that Richard, when he was treasurer here in Ohio, helped to support.

Now, the Easons are good people.  They’re what America is all about.  They worked hard.  They served their country.  They saved their money.  They didn’t live high on the hog.  It’s a modest house.  They earned the right to retire with dignity and with respect, and they shouldn’t have to worry about being tricked by somebody who’s out to make a quick buck.  And they need somebody who is going to stand up for them, and millions of Americans need somebody who is going to look out for their interests.  And that person is Richard Cordray.

The recess appointment of Mr. Cordray was also encouraging for progressives because it is a great example of President Obama taking the fight to the GOP.  For the past year and a half, the GOP has managed to prevent the CFPB from doing its job by filibustering Obama’s nominees (first Elizabeth Warren and then Richard Cordray).  Yesterday’s recess appointment makes clear that enough is enough, and taunts the GOP to choose a high profile battle over recess appointments over an agency that has strong public support and on an issue of economic justice that the GOP is plainly on the wrong side of.  And, by waiting to make the appointment until yesterday, when the second session of the 112th Congress officially began, President Obama ensured that Cordray’s appointment would last until the end of 2013, rather than until the end of this year.

Finally, some progressives were disappointed last summer when President Obama decided to withdraw his nomination of Elizabeth Warren for the CFPB director post and to instead nominate Mr. Cordray.  But, as we noted at the time, this decision has given us progressives a two-fer – a great director of the CFPB and a great Senate candidate in Massachusetts to replace Republican Scott Brown.

We progressives should help support these great developments by:

- writing a letter to your local newspaper editor explaining why you support the CFPB and Mr. Cordray

- contacting your Senators and the White House in support of Mr. Cordray’s appointment

- supporting Ms. Warren’s Senate campaign, so that the CFPB and consumers will have a strong voice in the Senate starting in 2013.

.

Quick Hits – Recalling Scott Walker, Rejecting Torture, Health Care Reform, and Elizabeth Warren

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

 

We’re starting a new occasional feature at Winning Progressive called “Quick Hits,” in which we briefly flag some important progressive stories from the past few days.  Feel free to e-mail us if you have any suggestions for future editions of Quick Hits. 

Recall Scott Walker – progressives in Wisconsin have officially begun the effort to recall GOP Gov. Scott Walker and stop his anti-worker conservative agenda.  At least 540,208 signatures must be collected over the next 59 days, and then a recall election will be held six weeks after that.  Visit the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s Recall Headquarters, where:

You can sign up to volunteer your time, make a donation and attend recall events in your area. You can also download petitions to circulate amongst your friends, family and neighbors here.

President Obama Calls Waterboarding What It Is – Torture – After a recent GOP Presidential debate in which a number of candidates supported resuming waterboarding, President Obama forcefully rejected the practice, explaining:

“They’re wrong. Waterboarding is torture,” Obama said. “Anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that’s not something we do — period.”

Contact the White House - 202-456-1111 – to thank our President for standing up for basic human decency.

Health Care Reform Goes to the Supreme Court – The Supreme Court has announced that it is going to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s historic health care reform legislation.  As we explained recently, two conservative appellate court judges have upheld the constitutionality of the legislation’s “shared responsibility” provision, which bodes well for Justice Kennedy or some other conservative joining with the moderates and liberals on the Court to uphold the law.  Oral argument is expected in March 2012, with a decision likely to be issued in June or July 2012.

Elizabeth Warren’s First Campaign Ad – Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (MA) is working to define herself and her campaign by launching her first television commercial.  The commercial discusses Warren’s working class background, and explains how she is fighting to provide a level playing field for all Massachusettians.   Watch the commercial below and if you like it visit Ms. Warren’s campaign website to learn more about how you can support her campaign: