A New Coalition for Big Bank Accountability
As leaders in Washington agonize over finding trillions of dollars to help address the nation’s deficit and stimulate job growth, a new coalition of faith and community organizers has a novel suggestion: look to the banks. At a roundtable discussion yesterday in Washington, the New Bottom Line coalition brought together economists, small-business owners, policy experts, and community organizers to offer a new economic vision for our country: one that values American families over corporate earnings reports.
Their mission? To change the calculus of our country’s economic values. Their method? Sustained grassroots mobilization to directly challenge the big banks, who have bought so much influence and favor in Washington that real people’s voices have been drowned out.
Among some of the specific policy recommendations discussed at yesterday’s meeting:
Require Wall Street banks to pay their fair share. Not only are they sitting on $1.4 trillion in cash reserves (essentially free insurance), but their tax rate is lower than ever. Stabilize the housing market and help revitalize the economy. Homeowners weren’t the cause of the foreclosure crisis, and they shouldn’t bear the brunt of austerity measures while struggling to maintain their families’ most important asset. End predatory lending practices. It’s unconscionable that after the harm caused by the tricks and traps of the banking industry crashed our economy three years ago, their dishonest schemes are still in full effect.
Political leaders are mired in a serious debate about our economic priorities and how they reflect our national values. After all, if we choose to give more tax breaks to the wealthiest at the expense of struggling families, if we continue to reward recklessness and greed on Wall Street without holding them accountable, and if middle-class Americans who have worked hard and played by the rules continue to fall further and further behind, it’s pretty clear that we have strayed far from the ideal of the American Dream. The only question now is whether increased grassroots pressure and a clarion moral call from faith communities can persuade our leaders to stop listening to their corporate donors and start doing what’s right for America.