By Roland S. Martin
Vice President Joe Biden has been the topic of much discussion this week as to whether or not he was playing racial politics in what has become the “Chains” speech in Danville, Va.
Commentators, political pundits, politicians and academics have weighed in on the issue. But through all of the hoopla, it is important to probe the statement that preceded Biden saying, “they going to put y’all back in chains.”
That line has been the center of the discussion, as opposed to this: “(Mitt) Romney wants to let — he said in the first hundred days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street.”
Knock yourself out focusing on the racial implications of what Biden had to say. Because when I look at the number of Americans still underwater due to the dastardly things that took place in the housing market — the number of banks that took billions in federal funds supposedly to provide credit to Americans, only to use it to shore up their balance sheets, as well as the banking industry fighting tooth and nail to prevent future regulations — that, to me, is far more vital for determining whom we should cast our vote for in November.
Mitt Romney, who made his millions in private equity, is most certainly the guy Wall Street is betting big on. Millions are flowing into his coffers from Wall Street because he has made it clear that he is going to pretty much say, “Gents, it’s business as usual!”
We could have some faith in his vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan, who has talked openly about reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which since 1933 protected Americans by preventing commercial banks to also be investment banks.
Yet it was the repealing of that important law in 1999, led by Republican Sen. Phil Gramm and signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, that is largely to blame for the current crisis we find ourselves in. Far too few banks are in control of far too much of the nation’s money, and when their shameful and evil ways to make money end up almost collapsing the economy, taxpayers are left to bail them out.
Ryan is on the record as saying Glass-Steagall should return, but the man at the top of the ticket isn’t so sure, which means that Ryan will have to keep his thoughts to himself.
Romney and Ryan are in lockstep in disagreeing with the passage of the Dodd-Frank law that was supposed to reform the banking industry, and that should cause many of us to be cautious as to why.
Let’s be clear: Dodd-Frank is not a perfect bill.
The financial lobby was successful at stripping away some of the toughest provisions of the law, and former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd was too willing to do their bidding. Democrats and Republicans are to blame for that, but at least the law is an effort to get Wall Street to clean up its act.
Romney pretty much wants Wall Street to keep doing what they’ve been doing, offering no specifics on what kinds of regulations should be imposed to put them in check. When J.P. Morgan announced they lost $3 billion a few months ago, Romney pretty much shrugged his shoulders and said, “that’s the free market enterprise for you.”
But when that free market enterprise results in needing more than a trillion dollars of infusion from the American taxpayer and the Federal Reserve, it sure isn’t free to us!
The banking system has been horrible at working with millions of American homeowners who face foreclosure. Romney hasn’t offered a real plan to address that issue, and President Obama is now on his fourth housing plan that’s supposed to help those in need.
Judging by the voting record of Ryan in the House, we surely can’t expect him to work to change Romney’s mind:
—Ryan was one of only 64 House members to vote against a law requiring credit card companies to notify cardholders they were going to raise their interest rates. (It passed.)
—He voted no on a bill to allow the Treasury Department to offer $300 billion in loans to community banks to assist smallbusinesses. (It passed.)
—He voted yes to strip the Consumer Financial Protect Agency of some of its toughest rules, instead wanting to soften it up (It failed.)
—He voted yes on a bill that delayed for a year new regulations on the kind of derivatives that created the financial mess we’re in right now (It passed.)
It is clear that Wall Street doesn’t care about the American consumers, except to keep us shackled in debt through sky-high credit card balances, thus allowing them to make billions off of the high interest rates. Bankers fought hard to keep hitting account holders with hidden fees, again lining their pockets. And they sure as heck aren’t doing enough to stabilize the housing market by drawing down principals and placing a moratorium on foreclosures.
So, we should recognize Romney’s recipe of ideas as a disaster for consumers and a boon for Wall Street.
You can be angry all you want about Biden’s “chains” comments, but you better be just as upset if we have to go through another financial calamity like we did in 2008 when Wall Street ran amok and took us for suckers in an effort to tap into our pocketbooks again, courtesy of the U.S. Treasury.
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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