A number of our congressional representatives have sent out statements on recently passed legislation aimed at reforming Wall Street. Here are select press releases:
Today, Congressman Patrick Murphy’s (D-PA, 8th District) legislation to create the Office of Financial Protection for Older Adults, an agency that would protect seniors from the financial exploitation and abuse, passed the House as an amendment to H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.
Rep. Murphy’s amendment would fight back against what many experts call the “crime of the 21st century”: financial exploitation and abuse of vulnerable senior citizens. This year alone, millions of seniors will become victims of abuse and exploitation; for every incident brought to light, 5 cases go unreported. Rep. Murphy offered this legislation because more needs to be done to fight back against this serious form of abuse, which robs millions of older Americans and their families of a staggering $2.6 billion each year. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation at the hands of those looking to take advantage of their declining physical or mental health, dependency, or isolation. With the increasing complexity of financial products and with more seniors using email and the Internet, financial exploitation is a distinct and complicated issue that must be addressed by experts well-equipped to handle the problem.
“We owe it to our parents and grandparents to do a better job of protecting them from financial exploitation,” said Rep. Murphy. “The Office of Financial Protection for Older Adults is an important step in ensuring that we protect our loved ones from losing their savings, pensions, or even their homes because of these abusive predators.”
“We commend Congressman Murphy for addressing one of the fastest growing and most debilitating forms of elder abuse, financial exploitation and abuse. We know that last year, financial abuse costs its elderly victims more than $2.6 billion a year, depriving millions of the life savings and retirement security they worked hard and saved for their entire lives,” said Robert Blancato, National Coordinator for the Elder Justice Coalition. “Seniors deserve the crucial protections provided in this bill, which renews our commitment to safeguard our parents and grandparents from predators looking to scam them out of their hard-earned money or property.”
The Office of Financial Protection for Older Adults would be dedicated solely to tackling this growing threat. It would:
§ Facilitate the education of seniors on the warning signs of fraud and how to prevent becoming a victim;
§ Establish best practices for programs that provide financial counseling and address the problem of misleading or fake certifications of senior financial advisors;
§ Address the problem of misleading or fake certifications of senior financial advisors by providing for strengthened oversight; and
§ Improve coordination between current elder protection agencies to better serve seniors.
The Elder Justice Coalition is comprised of 239 member organizations dedicated to increasing public awareness regarding elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and to promoting legislation that pertains to the prevention of elder abuse. Member organizations include the AARP and the Alliance for Retired Americans.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz praised passage today of legislation to provide stronger consumer protections for American families and prevent the type of abuses that led to the current economic crisis. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 includes common sense reforms to protect consumers from predatory lending abuses and misleading tactics, and ensures strong supervision and regulation of the business practices of our financial institutions.
“Over the past year, this Congress and President Obama made tough choices and enacted vital measures to bring our economy back from the brink of disaster,” Schwartz said. “Now it is time to take action to ensure such a financial crisis doesn’t happen again. Wall Street reform is the next critical step to creating jobs and growing our economy. American families have paid too high a price already for some financial institutions’ risky behavior. This action will provide transparency, oversight and accountability essential to protecting consumers.”
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts; protect families’ retirement funds, college savings, homes and business’s financial futures; and bring transparency and accountability to our financial system.
* Creates a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to ensure that bank loans, mortgages and credit cards are fair, affordable, understandable and transparent. The CFPA will prevent the financial industry from offering predatory mortgage loans to people who can’t afford them and put in place common sense regulations to stop abuses by the financial industry, such as payday lending and exorbitant overdraft fees.
* Ends too big to fail financial firms by providing the government with the tools—funded by the banks and financial firms, not taxpayers—it needs to manage financial crises so we are not forced to choose between bailouts and financial collapse.
* Ensures American taxpayers are never again on the hook for bailing companies out by requiring big banks and other financial institutions to foot the bill for any future bailouts.
* Requires that all financial firms that pose risk to the system are subject to strong supervision and regulation.
* Stops predatory lending and irresponsible mortgage loan practices, helping ensure the mortgage industry follows basic rules of sound lending and consumer protection.
* Requires more transparency and tougher regulations of hedge funds, private equity firms and credit rating agencies.
Schwartz supported the inclusion of two particular provisions in the legislation that will help Southeastern Pennsylvania’s life science and biotech industries. These industries are directly responsible for more than 77,000 jobs throughout Pennsylvania. Specifically, Schwartz worked with the House Financial Services Committee to ensure that venture capital firms, which are major sources of funding for life sciences and biotech firms, will comply with reporting requirements that are appropriate to the nature of their business and level of risk.
She also voted against an amendment that would have eliminated a provision to provide small innovative companies with less burdensome audit requirements, while maintaining those requirements for companies with more than $75 million in market capitalization.
Just months after passing an economic stimulus bill to rescue America from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Joe Sestak plans to vote for H.R. 4173, which provides new market safeguards that will help restore trust in America's economic future. If enacted, this legislation will restore oversight to the financial markets, create mechanisms for limiting executive pay, and help prevent the predatory lending practices that caused the Wall Street meltdown last year.
"Pennsylvania's next generation of prosperity will be built on the foundation of financial security outlined in this bill," Joe said. "Still, there are some who seem more concerned with re-writing history for the sake of political survival than coming clean about their mistakes in backing the Bush Administration's failed economic policies over the past decade. If my primary opponent, long-time Republican Arlen Specter, and his Republican colleagues had the courage to take responsibility for their part in dismantling the safeguards that brought our country to the brink of financial collapse, it would go a long way in restoring the peoples' trust in their elected officials."
Instead of standing up to Republicans, Senator Specter stood by their side - supporting Bush tax breaks for multimillionaires, deregulating Wall Street, eliminating "PAYGO" requirements, and turning his back on families facing foreclosure. For example, he:
* Deregulated Wall Street: forbidding any requirement for reporting derivative transactions, tearing down the walls between investment companies and consumer banks; and removing requirements that banks keep sufficient cash reserves on hand. When the financial crises occurred, institutions were therefore unable to avoid collapse -- or protect working Americans; (S. 900, Vote #105, 5/6/99) (H.R. 4577, 12/15/2000)
* Eliminated "pay-as-you-go" (PAYGO) rules, which had created 3 budget surpluses under President Clinton by requiring Congress to offset the cost of any new spending programs; and
(H.R. 5708, Vote #482, 11/14/2002)
* Voted time and again for Bush's tax breaks for multi-millionaires -- more than 50% went to the wealthiest one percent. In fact, between 2001 through 2008, under Arlen Specter's and President Bush's economic and tax policies -- without a "pay-as-you-go" requirement -- the national debt more than doubled from $4.5 trillion to over $9 trillion.
* Voted to strip a key provision from the Helping Families Save Their Home Act that would have saved homes by empowering bankruptcy judges to reduce principal and interest rates for homeowners in bankruptcy [S AMDT 1014, 4/30/09]
Pennsylvanians are still feeling the effects of the Bush-Specter policies that let the reckless trading and predatory lending practices go unchecked. At its worst point, 7,000 Americans lost their jobs every month, most of whom are still looking for work. Families have lost their homes to foreclosure, bringing down property values across the state. And many seniors who have worked their entire lives have seen their retirement savings and pensions wiped out.
"Challenging times like these require leaders who will challenge Wall Street on behalf of working families," Joe continued. "Failure to act by Bush and Specter gravely harmed our economy and risked an even deeper and more protracted recession. The economic recovery efforts currently underway -- including TARP and the Economic Stabilization Act -- were necessary to bring our economy back from the brink of collapse."
Joe Sestak has long championed the efforts undertaken by H.R. 4173, which accomplishes the following five goals to prevent another market meltdown:
* Creates a more stable, safer financial system less prone to crisis;
* Provides substantial new protections for consumers and investors;
* Safeguards American taxpayers from having to bear the costs of future crisis;
* Recognizes global approach (avoid cross-border arbitrage/loss of competitiveness); and
* Fosters innovation, growth and prosperity.
This legislation builds on the economic recovery bill, which Joe Sestak voted to pass earlier in the year. The recovery bill helped save three million additional jobs from being lost in the first half of 2009, stopped the unemployment rate from climbing over 12%, and prevented GDP from remaining stuck beneath its pre-2007 peak until 2014. Joe is now continuing his call for a comprehensive jobs creation bill to provide new incentives for small businesses, increase aid to state and local governments, and extend health benefits for workers who lost their jobs in the recession.
Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, voted for H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, which passed in the House by a vote of 223-202. As a result of Chairman Kanjorski’s leadership on this landmark legislation to work to prevent future financial crises and better protect every American, it includes four of Chairman Kanjorski’s reform bills, which comprise about half of the larger legislation. It also includes the Kanjorski amendment which would empower federal regulators to rein in and dismantle financial firms that are so large, inter-connected, or risky that their collapse would put at risk the entire American economic system, even if those firms currently appear to be well-capitalized and healthy. Therefore, American taxpayers should no longer be on the hook for bailouts, as financial companies would not be able to become “too big to fail.”
“Today marks a momentous step as we work to reform Wall Street and better protect the American people from potential future financial crises,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “Last year, our economy faced its most dire circumstances since the Great Depression. We took extraordinary, but necessary action to pull the economy back from the brink, and we are now beginning to see signs of recovery. Today, the House passed legislation, with my strong support, that provides the most sweeping financial regulatory reforms in the past 75 years and holds banks accountable for their actions. While no bill is perfect, this legislation takes strong steps to help prevent the near collapse that we faced last year. It also will help us take preventative action to protect every American and our economy so that there will no longer be companies that are “too big to fail” or anymore taxpayer funded bailouts.”
Chairman Kanjorski added, “A healthy financial system is necessary for a healthy economy, and I am confident that once enacted into law, this legislation will serve as a foundation for decades of economic growth. However, more needs to be done immediately to stimulate the creation of jobs, and I look forward to continuing to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to address the needs of the American people as we struggle through these difficult economic times.”
Click here for more information on the Kanjorski amendment to address financial institutions deemed “too big to fail,” as well as Chairman Kanjorski’s four bills which, for the first time, would better protect investors, enhance credit agency regulation, force the registration of the advisors to hedge funds and private equity pools, and create a federal insurance office. They are all included in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.