Change Wall Street Can Believe In

Wall Street
is doing to America what private equity firms did to Simmons Bedding and many
other productive companies. Taking control with borrowed money, stripping
assets, slashing jobs and cashing out.

Taxpayer bailouts saved Wall
Street from choking on its own greed. Now, as the Wall Street Journal reports,
"Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about
$140 billion this year -- a record high."

$140 billion is more than the
combined budgets of the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing
and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental
Protection Agency.

Typical workers, meanwhile, make less today adjusting
for inflation than they did in the 1970s. Wall Street rewarded CEOs who cut
employee wages and benefits and offshored manufacturing, services, and research
and development; feasted on Bush's tax cuts; turned mortgages into loan
sharking; and vacuumed up home equity, college funds, retirement funds and other
private and public investments into their rigged casino.

Goldman Sachs,
for example, "peddled billions of dollars in shaky securities tied to subprime
mortgages on unsuspecting pension funds, insurance companies and other investors
when it concluded that the housing bubble would burst," McClatchy reports in a
new investigative series.

The Great Depression gave way to the New Deal.
The Great Recession has become the Great Ripoff.

The TARP inspector
general's latest report to Congress says, "The firms that were 'too big to fail'
... are in many cases bigger still, many as a result of Government-supported and
-sponsored mergers and acquisitions; the inherently conflicted rating agencies
that failed to warn of the risks leading up to the financial crisis are still
just as conflicted; and the recent rebound in big bank stock prices risks
removing the urgency of dealing with the system's fundamental

Enabled by the Bush and Obama administrations, the megabanks
are lending less and gambling more -- using taxpayer money to pay bonuses, float
a new stock market bubble and make even riskier bets.

The U.S. Treasury
and Federal Reserve have become Wall Street's ATMs, while unemployment,
foreclosures and homelessness rise, states slash public services, and small
businesses are starved of credit.

Outside the TARP, trillions of dollars
are flowing to the banksters in the form of near-zero interest loans, bond
guarantees and extreme leverage for toxic assets. You can follow the money at Nomi Prins, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, is
author of "It Takes a Pillage."

The megabanks are not too big to fail.
They're too big and irresponsible to exist.

Just months after taking
office in 1933, President Roosevelt signed into law the Glass-Steagall Act,
which separated the commercial banking of savings, checking and loans from
investment banks doing underwriting and speculative trading. The former got
depositor insurance, not the latter.

Glass-Steagall lasted until
Citigroup and other power players killed it in 1999 through the Financial
Services Modernization Act, taking us back to the pre-New Deal casino economy on
steroids. Now former Citigroup CEO John Reed has joined the growing call to
split commercial banking and investment.

In 2000, Congress passed the
Commodity Futures Modernization Act, ignoring the warnings of Commodity Futures
Trading Commission head Brooksley Born who said that unregulated trading in
derivatives could "threaten our regulated markets or, indeed, our

By 2002, the four largest bank holding companies -- Bank of
America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup -- had 27 percent of
FDIC-insured bank assets. Now, reports the Economic Policy Institute, they have
nearly half. They overlap with the biggest derivatives dealers -- JP Morgan,
Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.

government heavily subsidizes the megabanks, but it's the small banks that
provide higher savings interest, lower fees, lower loan and credit card rates,
and do much of the lending to small business, who in turn create most new jobs.

Behind their Main Street rhetoric, Congress and the Obama administration
have so far been the change Wall Street can believe in. The administration and
Federal Reserve are loaded with revolving door Wall Streeters and their
proteges. Campaign donors and lobbyists are working Congress to minimize and
distort reform.

Make your voices heard. We need to enact tough
regulations and bust the banks who busted our economy -- before they do it

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