It took about 500 days of negotiation. But on Thursday, February 9, attorneys general representing nearly all 50 states made the announcement: Five banks will pay a combined $25 billion over three years in civil penalties and loan write-downs for having serviced mortgage foreclosure paperwork over the previous four years without proper review. The settlement, say supporters, will compensate homeowners for prior predatory lending practices, reform the banking industry and give the economy a boost. But the context of the case suggests an ulterior motive: socializing the housing market. This by no means is the first such attempt during the Obama years. And the true cost of this shakedown, the largest of its kind since the 1998 tobacco industry settlement, may be far higher than $25 billion.
Are the anti-Wall Street protestors demonstrating against themselves? The richest and most prominent Wall Street executives overwhelmingly supported and bankrolled Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008.
And on Wall Street, little distinction is made between liberal Democrats and avowedly socialist activist groups. The big banks financed ACORN. Although ACORN has disbanded in the wake of scandal, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, formerly headed by White House Chief of Staff William Daley, continues to fund similar groups committed to undermining capitalism and debasing democracy.
Stephen Lerner is a hard person to admire. His specialty, after all, is economic sabotage. Yet his utility to the cause of public accountability is undeniable. Lerner, a longtime official with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) until his supposed ouster last November, was caught on March 18 and 19 on audiotape speaking before a closed-session audience at Pace University in Manhattan describing an SEIU plan to destabilize the U.S. economy. The campaign, which he heads, intends to take down the financial sector and trigger a massive redistribution of wealth and power.
It looks like the "Chicago Way" will continue with William Daley taking the White House Chief of Staff position formerly held by Rahm Emanuel. Daley is a particularly poor choice because he represents the nexus of big government, big business and the left-wing activist groups they enable and bankroll.
Daley is not a "centrist," nor is he "pro business," except when he is getting a piece of the action. Daley has carried the title of "Midwest Chairman" of JPMorgan Chase but he is not a banker or a businessman. He is a broker of influence. That is why JPMorgan Chase hired him in the first place.
The electorate’s repudiation of Barack Obama and his Congressional allies was not only a rejection of Big Government, but also of business elites who were buffeted from the downturn by political dealing at the expense of ordinary people.
Unless Corporate America heeds the election results, it too will risk the wrath of an informed and energized public. Here are CEOs who must pay attention to what happened yesterday:
Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler- Not only did Kindler (above) lead the charge of Big Pharma CEOs for ObamaCare, he actually got a multi-million dollar bonus from Pfizer for doing so. This is not going to look very good once ObamaCare spikes insurance premiums, prompts hospital closures, and explodes the number of uninsured. Of course, Kindler wasn’t naïve or confused, he had reason to help destroy the health system. Big Pharma made a deal that guarantees it customers and insulation from competition. (I assume Kindler plans to retire before the government forces Pfizer to sell its products for less than it costs to produce them.)
Last week the Chicago Tribunereported that Illinois Finance Authority chairman Bill Brandt threatened “a firestorm” in the Windy City if the Federal Reserve did not follow through with a bailout of South Side-based ShoreBank. This followed some reported pressure applied by the Obama Administration on companies like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, GE Capital, Bank of America, and Chase, who were asked to kick in $20 million each to make politically-backed community lender appear eligible to receive TARP funds.
Turns out the preference for Chicago-type coercion goes right to the top (and the origins) of the troubled bank itself.
Of all the factors behind the collapse of America's financial institutions during the second half of 2008, few have been as trumpeted - or misunderstood - as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). This Carter-era legislation, intended to boost residential mortgage lending in lower-income urban neighborhoods, increasingly has served as a blank check for community groups to shake down depository institutions into lowering their credit standards to reach marginally qualified borrowers. In extracting such concessions, these groups have contributed to the ongoing explosion in loan defaults and foreclosures. Undaunted, House Democrats, led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex., are proposing to make the CRA even more aggressive in rooting out "redlining," the practice by which mortgage lenders allegedly refuse to extend credit to low-income and often nonwhite minority neighborhoods.
NLPC has asked JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to end financial support for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and its affiliates. According to the 2007 tax return for the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the most recent available, ACORN Housing, Inc. was the recipient of a million dollar grant in 2007. Another grant of $25,000 was made to the ACORN Institute. In a letter to Dimon, I warned:
Continued identification with ACORN harms the company’s brand name and reputation, and carries special risks for this company, a recipient of taxpayer TARP funds. The New York Times has identified you as President Obama’s “favorite banker.”