What Does Wall Street’s Budget Bill Victory Say About Our Democracy?

Dave Johnson

The budget bill called the “Cromnibus” (for Continuing Resolution and OMNIBUS budget bill) passed over the weekend. It included a provision undoing part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation bill, allowing banks to gamble on derivatives using money from taxpayer-protected accounts. Citibank literally wrote the provision and paid someone to put it in the bill.

This “Citibank” provision undid months of hard work getting the Dodd-Frank bill in place. No one in the House or Senate would admit to putting it in the bill. No one would say they supported the provision. But House/Senate leadership would not take it out of the bill because it was part of a “deal.” And, of course, it was put in at the last minute, making the choice “vote for it or shut down the government.”

OK, this is not a rhetorical question, it is a question to broadcast. This was written word-for-word by Citibank, to benefit Citibank, putting the taxpayers at great risk. Worse, because taxpayers will back up these risky bets their price goes down, encouraging more and riskier betting, almost ensuring another eventual collapse.

How could something like this be in a bill if no one put it in the bill and no one indicated support for it? How is it that We the People not get it taken out if no one would say they put it in and no one would say they support it?

How FAR can we go from the principles of democracy, transparency, accountability and everything the country, the Constitution and the Congress are supposed to stand for? This is one more example of how the economy is rigged against We the People. It is an example of how the government now works for a wealthy few against the interests of the rest of us.

In an honest system this would be a scandal deserving of a full, public, transparent investigation followed by prosecution of those responsible. In our current system what we got was “it must pass or the government will shut down.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is right, and her fight against this shows the path forward. The way to beat this is to elect more Warrens, more Bernie Sanders’, more Sherrod Browns, more Nancy Pelosis and more of the others who fought this.

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