Senator Dodd's Dilemma: Who to Take to the Ball?

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama's signature financial reform, a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), was in trouble in the Senate.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama's signature financial reform, a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), was in trouble in the Senate.

Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) was considering
dropping the idea of creating an independent, stand-alone consumer
protection body, empowered to crack down on banking abuses, in order to
get a regulatory revamp passed this year with bipartisan support. Dodd
is apparently considering shrinking the CFPA into a division of an
already existing federal agency (no doubt one with a proven
track-record of failing consumers.)

Dodd is faced with a dilemma. Although he introduced a rather strong
financial services reform bill in Congress last year, one which creates
an independent CFPA, curtails the powers of the Federal Reserve and
tackles many Wall Street abuses, it appears his bill is now being
chipped away by big bank lobbyists who have spent millions fighting

On January 6th, facing an impossibly tough re-elect fight, Dodd
announced that he was stepping down at the end of 2010. Analysis was
mixed about what this would mean for bank reform, but Politico reported
that one financial service lobbyists crowed: "'Now that Dodd is
retiring, he can ignore the demands of the special interests on the
left (consumer groups, trial bar, unions) and dance with the special interests that brought him to the dance in the first place. Us, his loyal donors in the banking community."

Today, BanksterUSA
released its new video, which calls upon Senator Dodd to dance with the
people and not the special interests. The video features Harvard Law
Professor Elizabeth Warren, who came up with the idea of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Warren makes the simple argument, that if America has an independent
regulatorory body to police toasters so they cannot burn down your
house, why don't we have an indpendent regulator to police deceptive
mortgages that can put you out on the street?

The video also features Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase,
the largest bank in America based on market capitalization. The focus
on Dimon is particularly timely. Dimon's firm survived the great
meltdown, absorbed the failing WaMu and Bear Sterns, received billions
in bailout funds and other government benefits which allowed the firm
to prosper in 2009. Dimon has been lobbying hard against any size cap on big banks and he has been touted
as a replacement for U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who has
come under fire for his mishandling of the AIG bailout while head of
the New York Fed.

On Friday, JPMorgan Chase announced $11 billion in earnings for 2009, and an eye-popping $27 billion in bonuses. The New York Times
dryly reported that the bonus numbers: "underscored the gaping divide
between the financial industry and the many ordinary Americans who are
still waiting for an economic recovery."

Senator Dodd is considering having his first hearings on financial
reform at the end of January. Now is the time to "Fill Dodd's Dance
Card" and sign our petition
to send Dodd the message that the American people expect him to make
protecting Main Street his legacy, not dancing with Wall Street. Dodd's
committee must pass meaningful reform, even if that means kicking big
bankers like Jamie Dimon out of the ballroom and telling Senate
Republicans "no deal" on a weak package of reforms.

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