In early 1900s, progressives from both political parties joined forces to create the Nonpartisan League and fight for progressive reform. (Cartoon published in the Nonpartisan Leader in 1912.)
During this political season, we have heard a lot about too-big-to-fail banks, corporate greed, politicians on the take, bad trade deals, inequality and … starting a revolution to save the middle class.
Just over 100 years ago, at the dawn of the first American Progressive Era, the same conditions sparked a revolution which spread from North Dakota throughout the prairie states.
In the early 1900s, family farms were under attack. Railroad robber barons charged farmers exorbitant prices to ship their grain, and if the farmers fell behind on loan payments, Wall Street banks stepped in—not to save the farmers but to foreclose on them.
As one farm family after another lost its land, politicians, who were in the pocket of big money interests, accepted the lobbyists’ cash and stood idly by.
Discontent grew among the farmers. In 1915, failed flax farmer A.C. Townley and his friend Fred Wood sat down at Fred’s kitchen table and drew up a progressive agenda to help the people of North Dakota. This blueprint for reform included regulating railroads and controlling fees, organizing farming cooperatives, and creating a state bank, which would make investments for the common good, instead of foreclosing on family farms. This was the birth of the Nonpartisan League (NPL).
#ThisIsACoup hashtag refers to Greece’s indebtedness to European banks.
On Democracy Now today, Amy Goodman reported on an economic panel assembled by Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.
Goodman excerpted a section of Sanders’ speech on the failure of austerity policies in Greece and around the world. He said that although his comments focused primarily on Greece (and Puerto Rico), “Governments around the world are struggling with too much debt and too much inequality…
“Five years of cruel and counterproductive austerity policies… have left the people of Greece with a full-blown humanitarian crisis. In my view, there is no more obvious example of the failure of austerity policies than what is going on in Greece,” Sanders continued. Watch the Democracy Now clip below.
So, Dimon and Warren don’t have a basic disagreement on how banks should be managed and regulated. Now we know that Liz is just stupid. Obviously, if she fully understood what Dimon and his band of thieves were doing, she wouldn’t be fighting them so hard. Ironically, in recent weeks, President Obama also called Warren’s opinions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ignorant. In March, Berkshire Hathoway CEO Warren Buffet she is too “angry” and “violent” in her critiques of Wall Street. It pisses me off as a woman, as a progressive, and as a banking reform advocate that Dimon, Obama, and Buffet resorted to personal smears rather than honestly debating Wall Street’s gambling operation and actually doing something about it– like busting up the too-big-to-fail banks or (better yet) taking control of the US money supply out of the hands of privately owned banks.
The banksters are pissed. How dare the City of Richmond, California try to use its power of eminent domain to stop housing foreclosures in its city?
Generally, governmental bodies use eminent domain to force people to sell their land and/or homes to make way for projects (like freeways) which are for the common good. Long ago, the Occupy Wall Street movement suggested that cities could use eminent domain to buy up mortgages and reduce homeowner debt– before the homeowners are forced out of their underwater mortgages by the banksters.
Remember the old Occupy chant? “Banks got bailed out. We got sold out.” The US government bailed out the Wall Street gamblers who crashed the worldwide economy, created and burst the housing bubble, caused businesses to close and lay off workers, and plunged millions of Americans into homelessness or rental units when they lost their homes. The federal government has done almost nothing to help the millions of beleaguered homowners who have lost their homes or are on the verge of it. Check out Richmond's plan after the jump.
Scarcely touched by the nation’s housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures.
The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond.
The banks have warned that such a move will bring down a hail of lawsuits and all but halt mortgage lending in any city with the temerity to try it.
But local officials, frustrated at the lack of large-scale relief from the Obama administration, relatively free of the influence that Wall Street wields in Washington, and faced with fraying neighborhoods and a depleted middle class, are beginning to shrug off those threats.
“We’re not willing to back down on this,” said Gayle McLaughlin, the former schoolteacher who is serving her second term as Richmond’s mayor. “They can put forward as much pressure as they would like but I’m very committed to this program and I’m very committed to the well-being of our neighborhoods.”
Despite rising home prices in many parts of the country, including California, roughly half of all homeowners with mortgages in Richmond are underwater, meaning they owe more — in some cases three or four times as much more — than their home is currently worth. On Monday, the city sent a round of letters to the owners and servicers of the loans, offering to buy 626 underwater loans. In some cases, the homeowner is already behind on the payments. Others are considered to be at high risk of default, mainly because home values have fallen so much that the homeowner has little incentive to keep paying.
Many cities, particularly those where minority residents were steered into predatory loans, face a situation similar to that in Richmond, which is largely black and Hispanic. About two dozen other local and state governments, including Newark, Seattle and a handful of cities in California, are looking at the eminent domain strategy, according to a count by Robert Hockett, a Cornell University law professor and one of the plan’s chief proponents. Irvington, N.J., passed a resolution supporting its use in July. North Las Vegas will consider an eminent domain proposal in August, and El Monte, Calif., is poised to act after hearing out the opposition this week.
But the cities face an uphill battle. Some have already backed off, and those who proceed will be challenged in court. After San Bernardino Countydropped the idea earlier this year, a network of housing groups and unions began working to win community support and develop nonprofit alternatives to Mortgage Resolution Partners, the firm that is managing the Richmond program.
“Our local electeds can’t do this alone, they need the backup support from their constituents,” said Amy Schur, a campaign director for the national Home Defenders League. “That’s what’s been the game changer in this effort.”…
The city is offering to buy the loans at what it considers the fair market value. In a hypothetical example, a home mortgaged for $400,000 is now worth $200,000. The city plans to buy the loan for $160,000, or about 80 percent of the value of the home, a discount that factors in the risk of default.
Then, the city would write down the debt to $190,000 and allow the homeowner to refinance at the new amount, probably through a government program. The $30,000 difference goes to the city, the investors who put up the money to buy the loan, closing costs and M.R.P. The homeowner would go from owing twice what the home is worth to having $10,000 in equity. [Read the rest of the storyhere.]
Strike Debt, Occupiers, and public banking proponents all have talked about buying debt– student loans, credit cards, or mortgages– and excusing the debt altogether (as Strike Debt did recently with student loans) or reducing the debt to a reasonable amount (which is what Richmond wants to do). I hope they succeed. I’m tired of watching people’s lives be destroyed by debt.
Bipartisanship is a popular buzz word in some political circles. Republicans use the call for “bipartisan solutions” to strong-arm Democrats into voting for bad ideas (like increased militarization and drone surveillance on the border in exchange for a long and complicated path to citizenship).
Democrats tout the quest for bipartisanship as code for “I’m a Democrat who votes with Republicans when it’s politically expedient.”
When the vast majority of American voters want higher taxes on the 1%, universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, good jobs, relief from crushing student and credit card debt, safe roads and bridges, regulatory controls on Wall Street, safe guards on Social Security, legalization of marijuana, and the right to vote, Congress devolves into inaction and gamesmanship.
Is bipartisanship a good strategy or just a trap to get Democrats to “punt on the first down”? More details and the video after the jump.
In her speech to the State Committee of the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP), Freshman Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema strongly promoted bipartisanship and told precinct committee members and ADP officers about the caucus that she “organized”– the bipartisanUnited Solutions Caucus. (Arizona Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is also a member. Both are in the above photo of the caucus.)
The United Solutions Caucus is made up of Democrats and Republicans who “meet weekly to find shared solutions to our nation’s problems,” Sinema told the Arizona Democrats. Caucus members “put partisanship aside and solve problems.”
Perhaps, Sinema, Kirkpatrick, and Barber are fence-sitters because they won their Congressional races with the lowest percentages in Arizona– 48.7%, 48.8%, and 50.4%, respectively. The conventional wisdom is that since these three are in swing districts they have to act like Republicans (at least some of the time) to win re-election. Unfortunately, when Democratic candidates vote like Republicans, they lose support from the Democratic donors and the foot soldiers who helped them win the offices in the first place. When the choice is Republican vs an uninspiring and not-to-be-counted-on Republican-lite “Democrat”, the voter response is: “Phhht…Who cares?” In 2010, when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the Tea Party revolt, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was one of the few Blue Dog Democrats to win re-election. (It was a squeaker, and some of the credit for Giffords' win goes to the spoiler Libertarian candidate.)
Important votes are coming up on cuts to food stamps, on increases in the interest rates on student loans, and on immigration reform, will these three stand as strong Democrats on these issues? All we can do is hope.
P.S. In the above video Sinema clearly states that she organized the United Solutions Caucus. A bit of stretch? The United Solutions Flickr site and web site both say this about the group’s founder:
The United Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group of freshman Congressman Patrick E. Murphy organized with co-chair Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-OH) who are dedicated to finding common ground and addressing the nation’s fiscal issues with bipartisan, long-term solutions. [Oops.]
Hosted by Arizona Ground Game “Arizona has a shortage of Affordable homes. According to the Director of Tucson’s Housing & Community Development Department, “Our Community needs 60,000 more units!” The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that Arizona has available … Continue reading →
Hosted by Southern Arizona VA Health Care System “In recognition of LGBT pride month, The Tucson VA will host a LGBT town-hall meeting on Wednesday, June 20 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Patio Conference Room in building … Continue reading →
Arizona List Celebrates and Red for Ed activism Take the next step! Elect women who make education a priority. Live music! Refreshments! Raffle! Free Gifts! https://www.facebook.com/events/194915921339238/Share this:FacebookTwitterMoreEmailTumblrPrintPocketRedditLinkedInGooglePinterest
The House I Live In WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20 AT 5:30PM | FREE ADMISSION Part of the Art for Justice Film Series presented by The University of Arizona Poetry Center. For the past 40 years, the war on drugs has resulted … Continue reading →
Hosted by Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence “Join us for a community-led discussion on enhancing sexual assault services and response in Tucson. Tucson has been a leader in Arizona when it comes to providing services for survivors … Continue reading →
“The Constitutional Issues in Higher Education (CIHE) Symposium is dedicated to examining constitutional concerns and influences that intersect with colleges and universities with a primary focus on the First Amendment. Institutions of higher education play a central role in educating, … Continue reading →
“The public is invited to attend a special film screening, hosted by the Pima County Safety + Justice Challenge, about the importance of destigmatizing mental health in the community. The films: Frontline: The Released – The acclaimed PBS investigative series … Continue reading →
“Are you tired of being afraid to have “difficult” conversations about race? Are you interested in the effects of personal change on diversity, equity, and inclusion? Are you ready to start your journey? Join other forward thinking people interested in … Continue reading →
Hosted by Invest in Education Arizona and Arizona Education Association “We’re going back to the capitol! Our walkout was the largest Arizona has ever seen. Together, we learned how it feels to make history. Now we’ve got just a few … Continue reading →
There are 2 nonpartisan seats up for election on the Amphitheater School Board. Susan Zibrat is a current board member, running for re-election. Matt Kopec is a former House. Rep. in LD 9, and now Council aide … Continue reading →
“Join us for the Warrior Women Weekend!! Meet Deedra Abboud, Candidate for United States Senate, Kelly Fryer, Candidate for Arizona Governor and Kathy Hoffman, Candidate for Arizona Superintendent (of Public Instruction). All three candidates will be at attending this can’t … Continue reading →
Ralph Atchue is running again for State Senate in LD 11. He lost to current Republican Senator Steve Smith in Nov. 2016. Also running again for LD 11 House is Hollace (Holly) Lyon, who lost in Nov. 2014 to current … Continue reading →
Hosted by Andrés Cano and 2 others “Join us for a forum for all of the Democratic candidates for the Arizona House and Senate. The event will be held on Monday, June 25, from 6-8 PM in the Sabino Room, … Continue reading →
Three Democrats running for 2 seats on Arizona Corporation Commission in the 8/28/18 primary: former Commissioners Bill Mundell and Sandra Kennedy (running as a team), and political newcomer Kiana Sears. 2 of the 5 seats on the AZ Corporation Commission … Continue reading →
“Our monthly Sustainable Living Forum brings experts to talk about, and discuss, topics in sustainable living. This month’s topic: Social Justice: Be the Change Guest speakers: Social Justice: Be the Change Bring your brains and enthusiasm. Learn from local experts, … Continue reading →