Saturday, June 10, 2017

CD2 Rep. Martha McSally votes for House bill that harms consumers

Like many others, I spent a good part of Thursday listening to the Comey hearing. But shortly thereafter The House just passed the biggest bank deregulation bill in a generation, vox.com reports.

This is a story in two parts. First, I quote from the vox.com article on what is in that House bill and why it is so harmful to consumers. Second, I quote from Jim Nintzel’s report at the Tucson Weekly about how our CD2 Rep, Martha McSally fears the voters’ wrath over her Trump-like voting. (She voted for that House bill!!!)

What the House did

On Thursday, Capitol Hill was consumed by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. But just after the high-profile hearing played out in the Hart Senate Office Building, House Republicans passed a mammoth, 580-page bill that would do more to deregulate the banking industry than any single piece of legislation in a generation.

The Financial Choice Act, approved in the House by a 233 to 186 margin, now heads to the Senate. Every House Democrat voted against it, and they were joined by just one Republican defector, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC).

“The Wrong Choice Act is a deeply misguided measure that would bring harm to consumers, investors and our whole economy,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the highest ranking Democrat on the financial services committee, in a statement. “The bill is rotten to the core and incredibly divisive.”

Because the Choice Act has unified Democrats in opposition, it has very little chance of crossing the 60-vote threshold it would need to pass the Senate without a filibuster. But some of its key measures — including defunding several key banking regulatory agencies — could be advanced through budget reconciliation, and would thus only require 51 votes.

“I think this has a very good chance of passing. There are a lot of Democrats who are going to be supporting this,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said in an interview this May. “Even Democrats have bankers in their districts.”

What’s in that Bill

Spearheaded by House Finance Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the Choice Act begins by throwing out much of the banking oversight passed under President Barack Obama’s administration, mostly through the Dodd-Frank Act signed in 2010. But it goes further than that, rolling back oversight in a way that could dramatically exacerbate the likelihood of another financial crisis, according to experts in financial regulation.

“It’s a little hard to get your mind around everything this bill does, because there’s almost no area of financial regulation it doesn’t touch,” says Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform. “There’s a bunch of very radical stuff in this bill, and it goes way beyond repealing Dodd-Frank.”

It could also expose the hollowness of Trump’s campaign promises. Trump ran on slamming Wall Street for “getting away with murder” and arguing that Goldman Sachs had “bled our country dry.”

But the bill looks to some like a wish list of what advocates and lobbyists for the banking industry have demanded. Among the provisions that have most alarmed progressives on the Hill is its proposed elimination of the “Volcker Rule,” which prevents commercial banks from making certain kinds of speculative and risky trades.

The Choice Act would also gut the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). As Mike Konczal wrote for Vox, the CFPB has won millions from big corporations by suing those who use “deceptive practices” for their customers. Hensarling’s bill wouldn’t get rid of CFPB entirely, but advocates say it would effectively render the agency powerless by letting Congress control its funding, allowing the White House to fire the agency’s director at will, and, perhaps most importantly, stripping it of a broad range of rulemaking authority.

Then there’s a bunch of stuff in the bill that targets financial regulatory agencies that try to ensure the big Wall Street banks don’t put themselves in positions like the ones they did in 2007. For instance, Republicans want to allow banks that meet certain capital requirements to be exempted from a huge number of the regulations that govern their behavior; they would make it far more difficult for federal regulators to issue new regulations by imposing strict new standards for doing so; and Congress would make it much easier for banks to pass the “stress tests” that gauge whether a bank could survive an economic shock.

“The Choice Act goes still further, splitting the Federal Reserve in half and preventing it from coordinating financial regulations and monetary policy, something that will make bubbles more likely — and more dangerous to the economy,” Konczal writes. “It would reduce the deference given to regulatory agencies, making regulations harder to pass, and harder to interpret.”

Martha McSally woos bankers

She did so in a secret meeting that was attended by some Indivisible types, four of whom got discovered and prevented from attending. But one of the five got by McSally’s surveillance and recorded the whole thing. Jim Nintzel has the story at Tucson Weekly/The Skinny.

UK protests
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally told a group
of bankers last week that if an election
were held today, she would lose office.

Behind Closed Doors

A secret recording shows U.S. Rep. McSally has some concerns about reelection

Congresswoman Martha McSally may be in more political trouble than she’s been letting on.

Team McSally has been poo-pooing recent polls showing that more than half of the voters in her district disapprove of her job performance, while her approval has fallen down to the mid–30s, percentage-wise, and that she was losing to a generic Democrat by 7 percentage points.

But last week, in a private talk to the Arizona Bankers Association, McSally conceded that in the current political environment, she has some real challenges in next year’s election.

McSally complained that President Donald Trump and his tweets were creating troubling “distractions” and “it’s basically being taken out on me. Any Republican member of Congress, you are going down with the ship. And we’re going to hand the gavel to Pelosi in 2018, they only need 28 seats and the path to that gavel being handed over is through my seat. And right now, it doesn’t matter that it’s me, it doesn’t matter what I’ve done. I have an ‘R’ next to my name and right now, this environment would have me not prevail.”

McSally cannot, just cannot be this dense. Can she? She has voted 100% with Trump. See the FiveThirtyEight summary of her votes. She quacks like a Trump, she walks like a Trump, so, pardon me, I infer that she is a Trump.

Nintzel continues.

Admittedly, McSally was making these comments as she was asking the bankers to open their checkbooks for her reelection campaign, so it could well be that she was just doing the ol’ fear-mongering-for-dollars act.

McSally’s comments came to light after some of McSally’s critics—including Kristen Randall, the leader of Indivisible Southern Arizona—ordered tickets to a talk McSally was giving at a luncheon for the Arizona Bankers Association.

Someone on Team McSally, however, appears to have taken a closer look at who was attending the event, because four of the five members of the group received emails about two hours before the lunch informing them that their tickets had been revoked. “They caught onto us,” Randall says with a laugh.

But the fifth member (whose identity The Skinny is not privy to) did manage to appear bankerly enough to crash the party—and the spy recorded McSally’s entire speech for the Randall’s group, and from there, it fell into our hands.

McSally was more blunt in many of her comments behind closed doors than she typically is when questioned on the issues. In fact, she expressed frustration that the media and her constituents ask her to comment on what President Trump says and does.

“The environment has changed and some of it changed on January 20,” McSally told the crowd. “There’s just an element out there that’s just, like, so against the president. Like they just can’t see straight. And all of a sudden on January 20, I’m like his twin sister to them. And I’m, like, responsible for everything he does, and tweets and says. And they want me to be spending my time as a pundit. ‘I disagree with that. I agree with this.’ I have a job in the legislature!”

I stand corrected. She is that dense.

Randall says she does expect McSally to speak up when Trump does something offensive.

“That’s her job,” Randall says. “When there’s going to be a vote, we want a statement. We want a dialogue. And she’s not giving it to us. She seems really put out. … She’s a leader in our community and that is part of her job. There’s a human component to her job that she very obviously does not enjoy.”

In her talk, McSally acknowledged that the job comes with a lot of frustration. She said serving in Congress had gotten a lot harder since Trump’s election last year and that she’s forced to “navigate in the political theater, but I don’t breathe life into it and I don’t enjoy it, just to be frank with you. It actually drains me.”

As she was talking to bankers, McSally focused on the latest GOP efforts to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that regulated banks after the 2007 economic collapse. She characterized Dodd-Frank as a hindrance to banks that needs to be repealed.

“Within the public, there is often a perception that we had the financial meltdown and then Dodd-Frank was good and it was, you know, saving us from future financial meltdowns,” McSally said. “You guys are all experts in the industry and you know that’s not the truth. Really, what Dodd-Frank did, was it provided additional compliance and legislative regulations and more burdens upon you. It doesn’t actually protect the consumer anymore, it just adds more paperwork and compliance.”

And McSally did in fact follow the GOP/Trump line and voted for that House bill to repeal Dodd-Frank and more.

McSally also had a lot to say about healthcare, but we don’t have room in the column this week—so look for that online at The Range at tucsonweekly.com.

Randall says she’s still hoping McSally will do some open town halls in Tucson so her group won’t have to resort to subterfuge to try to find out her positions.

“I’m pretty angry that she was willing to talk to out-of-district bankers but she’s not willing to talk to us,” Randall said.

Given the harmful nature of the House bill, McSally will try to sell her vote as being good for the economy – if she deigns to say anything to her constituents about it.

AZBlueMeanie has lots more to say about that bill and McSally’s vote in this morning’s post reporting that Evil GOP bastards vote to gut Dodd-Frank banking regulations.

Remember in November. We voters in CD2 must turn out and get rids of McSally. We can do it, and she is vulnerable.

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