Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

How Washington Works

Matt Wuerker depicts the Wall Street-Washington corporate welfare cycle. Thanks Dean.


One comment on “How Washington Works

  1. Dean
    27 March, 2009

    It won’t be news to anyone here that the Bush administration colluded with the plutocracy to call in pre-emptive strikes on financial regulation. But the biggest deregulation coup, which allowed banks to act like investment brokers and investment brokers to act like banks, took place under the Clinton administration in 1999. The Orwellian named Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act removed financial safeguards which were put in place after the American 1929 Depression by the Glass Stengel Act of 1933.

    Yes – that’s Phil Gramm of Nation-of-Whiners fame.

    Clinton may have placed the charges, but the Bush administration lit the fuse. When Elliot Spitzer tried to blow the whistle on predatory lending, the Bush administration had the FBI investigate his personal life and leak the investigation to the press.

    Here’s what Spitzer wrote, presciently, in the Washington Post in February of 2008.

    Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.

    Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.

    In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government’s actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.

    But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation. [Emphasis mine.]

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This entry was posted on 27 March, 2009 by in cartoon, USA and tagged .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"