Bought And Paid For….

As I have previously noted, I am a capitalist, an advocate of market economics.

Most members of today’s GOP are not.

In order to work properly, genuine capitalism requires regulation. Much as I hate sports analogies, this one fits: just as you cannot have a fair sporting contest without referees/umpires, you cannot have a working market economy without rules that ensure a level playing field. (You also have to distinguish between areas of the economy in which markets work and areas–like healthcare– where they don’t, but that is a subject for a different post.)

When people with little or no bargaining power have little or no choice but to do business with large, powerful institutions, government has an obligation to insure that the powerful are not taking advantage of the powerless. And that brings me to yesterday’s Senate vote to protect Wall Street from those annoying people from whom they profit .You will not be shocked to find that Mike Pence (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers) cast the deciding vote.

Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking vote late Tuesday to block new regulations allowing U.S. consumers to sue their banks, handing Wall Street and other big financial institutions their biggest victory since President Trump’s election.

The rules would have cost the industry billions of dollars, according to some estimates. With the Senate’s vote, Wall Street is beginning to reap the benefits of the Trump administration focus on rolling back regulations it says are strangling the economy. The vote is also a major rebuke of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which wrote the rules, and has often found itself at odds of Republicans in Congress and the business community.

The issue is that fine print in the agreements that we consumers have to sign when we apply for credit cards or bank accounts– fine print that requires us to settle any disputes that may subsequently arise through arbitration, in which a third party generally favorable to the Big Guys rules on the matter, rather than going to court or joining a class-action lawsuit.

The CFPB rule would block mandatory arbitration clauses in some cases, potentially allowing millions of Americans to file or join a lawsuit to press their complaints.

After more than four hours of debate, the Senate voted 51 to 50 to block its implementation. Pence was forced to cast the deciding vote shortly after 10 p.m. when two Republicans, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana, opposed the resolution. House Republicans already passed legislation to block the rule, which now needs the approval of President Trump.

“Tonight’s vote is a giant setback for every consumer in this country. Wall Street won and ordinary people lost,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement minutes after the vote. The legislation “preserves a two-tiered justice system where banks can have their day in court but deny their customers the same right.”

Proponents of the roll-back trotted out the “usual suspects”–those slimy lawyers and their class-action lawsuits–and pretended that the rule wouldn’t really protect consumers and that it would infringe on our freedom to contract. (Because you can always negotiate your credit card terms with MasterCard…) There may be some lawyers who abuse the system (although courts have ways of punishing such abuses), but class action lawsuits are a very important tool for justice. They’re one of the very few ways consumers can force changes to unethical and predatory business practices.

Class action lawsuits allow large groups of people to seek small amounts they individually wouldn’t have time or money to pursue. Large companies employing legally questionable practices rely on the ability to make a lot of money by cheating individual consumers just a little, not enough to justify hiring a lawyer and bringing an individual suit.

Reading about the Senate vote, my husband asked me why any Senator would vote to roll back the rule. I suggested he look at where those Senators’ campaign contributions came from.

If markets are for buying and selling, the Senate is evidently a thriving marketplace.


  1. I’d forgotten but not surprised that Pence is owned by the Kochs. I console myself by saying at least Pence won’t blow up the world. Lock up Trump!

  2. Marge there are different ways to blow up the world. The rules they are removing will touch on every part of our lives and not in a good way.

  3. Remember the Glass-Steagall Act and why it was passed, I think in 1932? It provided regulations to control/stop banks from stealing homes, farms and businesses from those victimized by the stock market crash of 1929 and many thousands further victimized by the “dust bowl” drought conditions in southern states. Read the Steinbeck book or, better yet, watch the movie “The Grapes of Wrath” as a reminder of why the Glass-Steagall Act provided much needed regulations on banks. One of Bernie Sander’s primary campaign platform was a “21st Century version of the Glass-Steagall Act”; he required Hillary include that in her campaign platform before agreeing to turn his support over to her. I watched her acceptance speech and she kept her word on that issue.

    Little by little, during the ensuing years the government repealed sections of that Act until Bill Clinton repealed it totally before leaving office and George W. turned the banks loose on all of us, taking full advantage of the lack of regulations. That continues today and Trump appears near success in escalating the national economic problems by further cutting taxes on all corporations. Why are newscasters referring to his attempts as “tax reform” when Trump himself states loud and clear he wants “tax cuts” for corporations to provide new jobs. A lie we have been living with since George W.’s appointment to the presidency.

    “After more than four hours of debate, the Senate voted 51 to 50 to block its implementation. Pence was forced to cast the deciding vote shortly after 10 p.m. when two Republicans, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana, opposed the resolution. House Republicans already passed legislation to block the rule, which now needs the approval of President Trump.”

    The Senate changed it’s own rules to allow the 51 vote majority as opposed to 60 votes to pass laws controlling the entire economy of this country. The Senate bypasses the Constitution by setting its own rules. This places Pence in the position of ruling the country’s financial status and, but for Senator John McCain, would have ruled the entire country’s health care – effectively ending it for millions. Riding shotgun for Trump, Pence appears to have more power in that position than he WILL have when he takes over the presidency.

    Theresa is right,”Pence won’t blow up the world” but he will starve the nation and deny health care from his personal pulpit as he prays nuclear war away.

  4. Marge, Jane, and Theresa,

    All of you are right.

    You’re being TRIOED. It rhymes with SCREWED. According to, it is a misspelling. If that’s the case, then we need a new word because we have to be able to understand the MACHINATIONS of the BIG THREE: Trump, Pence, and Bannon BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    mach-i-na-tion (mak’e na’ shen) n. [< L. machinari, to plot or scheme, esp. one with evil intent: usually used in pl.

  5. Wait!!! WHAT???

    Are you saying that Wall Street wasn’t looking out for our interests in this vote?

  6. We the people have lost again. Corporate Capitlalism has won again. Labor has been castrated. The Repblic doesn’t exist. Reason is mocked. Mindless faith leaders preach the gospel of greed. Tiny Tims are created by the Scrooges: Kochs, Adelsons, Devoses, Tillersons, etc., ad nauseum. Pass the opioids and heroin.

  7. Words by themselves, in the long run, are not enough.

    You have to “HIT HOME.”

    Definition: to become completely understood:
    The full horror of the war HIT HOME when we started seeing pictures of the wounded soldiers on TV.
    ~Cambridge Dictionary

    The reason we continue not to “HIT HOME” is because of the FEAR of RETRIBUTION from the other side. One day we will all wake-up and then understand that the REAL FEAR should have been that we were FAILING TO “HIT HOME.”

  8. What we need is a class action suit against the Congress. They have failed in their Constitutional responsibilities many times and we, the people, have been harmed.

  9. So the people with all your money get to decide for themselves if they should pay up in the event they have wronged you…yeah, that’ll be fair, sure. To give you a sense of the proliferation of private arbitration as a means of settling dispute, even our local Indianapolis Museum of Art requires private arbitration for disputes connected to renting their spaces for weddings, etc. I once to summarized a credit card agreement to a friend by saying basically it says the bank can change anything for any reason at any time to their advantage, and you have no rights whatsoever other than to close the account and pay it off on their terms immediately. What a deal! Fairness personified!

  10. An NPR story this morning noted the irony that the banks themselves can of course engage in class-action lawsuits, as many of them are now doing against Equifax. Ah, justice.

  11. Peggy,

    “What we need is a class action suit against the Congress.”

    You’re right, but I would leave out SUIT. You can’t win in the courts, but you could win if you were organized right as a CLASS OF THE SCREWED that was willing to HIT HOME. But so far there NEVER has been any organized move in that direction.

    There is no contest. The situation is farcical. It’s safe to lose. That way no one hits back. And the $$$$ still keep rolling in. The LOSERS are seen as WINNERS.

    farce (fars) n. [Fr. < L. farcire, to stuff] l. (an) exaggerated comedy based on boadly humorous situations 2. an absurd or ridiculous action, PRETENSE, etc.—far-ci-cal (far'si kel) adj.

  12. Becky; the issue today is the total lack of regulations on corporations we are all forced, through circumstance, to do business with. They are, in essence, monopolies as we have nowhere else to go. Hillary and the dossier is an issue for another day when we have access to more information on both Hillary and the dossier which is still being investigated.

  13. Flake and Corker voted for it too. Sometimes I think we focus too much on Trump’s misdeeds instead of the inherent corruption of the Republicans (and some Democrats).

  14. Becky,

    “Why aren’t you writing about Hillary and the dossier? So inconvenient, isn’t it?”

    For one, I have to admit it is inconvenient, especially since Hillary is not the President, is not a sociopath, nor does she have a button that could create a nuclear war or etc. etc. etc.

  15. Obviously, Pence is looking forward to the day when he can give one hour speeches to the banksters for $400,000…. Just like Obama.

    Obama bailed them out….Pence has now allowed them carte blanche to screw the public. Pence and Obama…..two sides to the same coin. Bought and sold.

    Of course,the lionized Bill Clinton started the ball rolling by repealing Glass-Steagall…..But,hey! Party unity at all cost! Because Democrats and Republicans are soooo different!

  16. Marv:” For one, I have to admit it is inconvenient, especially since Hillary is not the President, is not a sociopath, nor does she have a button that could create a nuclear war or etc. etc. etc.”

    I disagree with only one thing;Hillary Clinton is a sociopath. Libya,Syria and Honduras is proof of her depraved indifference to human lives.

    John Neal:”Flake and Corker voted for it too. Sometimes I think we focus too much on Trump’s misdeeds instead of the inherent corruption of the Republicans (and some Democrats).”

    So very true. So,what will the Democrats do to counter this move by Pence, et al? Not a thing, but piss and moan for a couple of days….Then continue the OMG! RUSSIA! meme.

  17. Becky, don’t forget. The dossier was started with Republican funding during the primary campaigning. They dropped it when it was determined it could damage the Republican candidate in the general election. An inconvient truth? Seems to me the Republicans knowingly nominated Putin’s puppet.

  18. Capitalism is a powerful engine under the hood of every democratic government. That seems reasonable to accept. But that alone does not a capitalist make. What would you call an individual who advocates everyone drive a powerful car with the throttle set wide open and observe laws that prevent the driver from touching the steering wheel? Suicidal, probably, but certainly not a capitalist.

  19. John,

    “Sometimes I think we focus too much on Trump’s misdeeds instead of the inherent corruption of the Republicans (and some Democrats).”

    The Trio controls the Republican Party. If you focus and defeat them, you defeat the Republican Party and some of the Democrats. It’s like an onion.

    Charles Koch no longer has the control that he once had. He doesn’t control this President.

    The same thing happened in Germany during the 30’s. Many of the industrialists thought they could control Hitler. Fortunately for us, Trump is no Hitler; Unlike Adolph Hitler, he’s vulnerable from the OUTSIDE.

  20. William,

    I’ve have had no personal personal dealings with either Bill or Hillary. However, it is my opinion, that Bill Clinton’s TRIANGULATION STRATEGY is the most ROTTEN, COWARDLY, political move that I have witnessed by any President past or present. Maybe, as you have pointed out, I should have held back on one of the statements I made about Hillary, since, as the old saying goes, “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

  21. Marv, you are definitely batting a thousand today – thank you! As for the artwork you mentioned, the cast of characters is so much larger than that famous poster from World War II that perhaps the side of a large building would do better and then replicate it all over the country. Since there appear to be so many of them perhaps their respective faces could be divided up in categories; governmental officials, oligarchs; media barons, and other assorted traitors to American democratic ideals. Maybe add some lighting to it as well so they could be seen by all day or night.

  22. Read the fine print on your credit card agreements and see how you have given up all your individual rights to sue, in addition to having just lost your Rule 23 rights by the likes of Pence, who takes his orders from the Wizards of Wichita, aka the Kochs. What happened in the dark of night with his tie-breaking vote is just one more benchmark on the road to total and complete takeover of America by the rich and corporate class, the experiment in democracy we call America that is rapidly failing not by conquest from without, but from within. As I have often blogged, this is my greatest fear.

    I also more specifically fear for the future of product liability cases, i.e., brakes that fail on cars, cans of poisoned beans etc., all of which are on the road to extinction and beyond the power of court and jury to decide. Whatever happened to the right to bring suit for tort? Has it been narrowed by legislative and judicial action to such a point that it, too, has become an artifact and the subject of even further narrowing in the eternal quest for profit by the rich and corporate class?

    Let’s wax even more philosophical – I am beginning to think that North Korea, ISIS, China and Putin are manufactured distractions by comparison with what is really happening in this era, that our main and most consistent enemies of the people are from within as our We the People democratic institutions are undermined and discarded by the rich and corporate class in their purchase of the organs of power and oblivious rush to terminal greed while our status as individual citizens becomes that of an ATM totally dedicated to the further enrichment of our corporate masters. Make no mistake – Pence’s vote to disfranchise ordinary Americans for the benefit of his corporate contributors is another blow to our teetering democracy, and the end may be coming into sight.

    What to do? Remove these people beholden to corporate coffers from positions of power at the polls as quickly as possible, from Trump on down. Why the alarm? Well, as I often write, democracy is our most important asset held in common, and one of the last few things left
    worth dying for. That’s why.

  23. William good comments. An interesting article: As Tensions Simmer, Poll Shows Majority of Democrats Want Bold Leftward Shift

    From the article: The Harvard-Harris poll found that 69 percent of Democratic voters between the ages of 18 and 34 believe the party should embrace the leftward shift pushed by grassroots movements urging Democrats to back Medicare for All, free public college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, and a bevy of other progressive goals.

    “Those results, taken together, appear to bolster the left’s broad critique of the Democratic Party, which accuses the party of focusing too much on feuding with Trump and not enough on building a coherent vision for the left,” concluded Mic’s Andrew Joyce.

    Another article elsewhere: According to the poll—conducted online from Aug. 17-22 with 2,263 Democrats, Republicans, and registered Independents—Sanders is currently the only politician in the whole country who “a majority of Americans actually like.” Among the respondents, 54 percent view Sanders favorably with just 36 percent taking the opposite view.

    The so called News Networks of CNN and MSNBC are going with the story of all fissures and cracks in the Republican Party. There are no cracks they are firmly controlled by their corporate sponsors.

    The Corporate-Establishment Democratic Party it seems is determined to run against Trump, providing a Progressive political platform will not happen.

  24. I too am in favor of Market Economics and the sports analogy is an apt descriptor of why regulations and regulators are needed. Whenever I hear the rabid cry of deregulation I am reminded of the simple economic principle of “Market Failure”. This is a something that I have brought up to the current 9th District, IN, incumbent every time he touts his great efforts to roll back these onerous regulations. It will take years and a lot of pain to reverse the damage these idiots have done but, we will and must do it.

  25. When Karl Marx wrote “Das Kapital”, he predicted that unregulated capitalism would destroy itself from within because it was compelled to blindly pursue profits at the expense of everything else including labor and material resources. Well, today’s American capitalists are busting their asses to fulfill that prophecy. That compulsion for profits has blinded them to the previous lessons of disaster from the maw of abject greed.

    This compulsion is fronted, mostly, by the Republicans now in “power”. Listening to Mnuchin is a study in Marx’s prophecy coming true. Pence? He’s just a puppet at the end of the Koch brothers’ strings. A more worthless man in government I’ve seldom seen. No wonder Trump picked him.

  26. Gerald; also look at the interest percentage you pay for credit cards, then compare it with the interest your bank pays you if you have a savings account or invested in CDs. I shame my PNC financial adviser every time I reinvest my matured CDs. Please do not mention “investments” to me; that is how I lost thousands of dollars of my inheritance through my bank and only recovered a small portion. My investments and savings had earned over $2,000 in interest and dividends the last 18 months of Clinton’s administration. The first 18 month of George W.’s I lost over $6,000 in the same savings and investments.

  27. Gerald,

    “Why the alarm? Well, as I often write, democracy is our most important asset held in common, and one of the last few things left worth dying for. That’s why.”

    Ditto. Just to paraphrase what you just said, if we don’t QUICKLY find a way to transcend our reluctance “to stand-up to power,” we don’t have “a snowball’s chance in hell” of stopping this catastrophic tragedy.

    No doubt it is dangerous. But it is much more dangerous not to do it. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party act like they have a secret “Munich Pact of the 30’s” between the two of them. Unfortunately, the Democrats seem to have forgotten the grave dangers of APPEASEMENT AT ANY PRICE. Also, it might help if they remembered the “Phoney War” which preceded the beginning of W.W. II.

    That’s why our only chance to prevent a FUTURCIDE is to take on the Democratic Party leadership, no matter what, even if SUCCESS appears to be impossible.

  28. A few weeks ago our Corporate McMega-News Media sent scores of reporters, etc., to Las Vegas concerning the shooting there. There were interviews with the wounded in hospitals etc. Politicians pontificated and offered “hope and prayers”.

    One thought I had in the aftermath was how all these wounded people were going to pay for their medical bills and if they were disabled temporarily or permanently how would their bills be paid?? The same thought occurred to me after the Boston Bombing and Florida mass shooting.

    The McMega-Media has of course moved back or moved on to all things Trump. There is an article: Las Vegas shooting victims struggle to afford mounting medical costs –

    The answer in AmeriKa is Go Fund Me. If we had Universal-Single Payer or Enhanced Medicare, these victims would not have to worry about who will pay their bills. However, the bought and paid for politicians will not allow Universal Health or Enhanced Medicare as proposed in HR 676.

  29. Marv – Reform, real reform, is needed in both parties, though less in our party than that of the Republicans, who with their present leadership are headed the way of the Whigs. There are elements in our party who need to meet and discuss with other elements of our party as to just what is to be done in terms of philosophical underpinning, as in what do we stand for? How do we derail this rush of the so-called “free market” to destroy our economy? Perhaps Marx had his facts straight but with the wrong prescription for reform of capitalism. I have the fleeting hope that capitalism can somehow still survive the greed of its participants for fear that with its present trajectory we are headed toward authoritarianism – a symptom found in the ascent of Trumpism with his total disregard of history. and the importance of unity.

    Most great civilizations have fallen from within, not conquest. The armies involved in the subsequent “conquests” were merely mopping up a decadent society already torn to bits by internal strife and in our case possibly by such as China, Russia or a combination of others who do not have our best interests at heart and who are secretly applauding Trump’s destruction of our democracy preparatory to takeover from the rich and corporate class (who are currently reigning). These are the kinds of thoughts I have in macro-viewing the scene today. Do you have any ideas that could end or at least ameliorate the current strife we are experiencing with a view toward stopping short of the cliff? We live in dangerous era and need all the help we can get if we are to survive capitalism as currently practiced.

  30. Obama didn’t bail out the banks, W did! Come on, if you’re going to hate on Obama, at least use facts. Obama wasn’t elected until Nov 2008 and the banks failed in Sept 08. W gave them a blank check.

    Of course, Pence made the deciding vote, that’s all he’s good for. I don’t believe for a minute that he has our backs when it comes to regulations. It makes me sick to see McCain and Flake also vote for this stupid bill and I hope they all rot in hell.

  31. AgingLgirl,yes TARP was put in motion by GWB. As with TARP and most of Bush’s policies,Obama continued those very same policies he campaigned against. Guantanamo is still open. The tax cuts for the rich did continue unabated. The truth is Donald Trump is Obama’s legacy. Trump is/was good friends of the Clintons. I understand you’re blinded by party allegiance,you cannot critically look beyond your partisanship to the party. Obama was not a progressive. Why he continued the policies of the worst president ever when he campaigned against those very same policies……He was nothing more than another bought and paid for representative. Unfortunately,in our country,when speaking of former and current presidents critically, folks are accused of “hating”.

    From Salon:

    In February 2014, Obama signed a bill that would cut food stamps by $8.7 billion over the next 10 years. The legislation was estimated to cause 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month, while poverty and hunger are on the rise — even though they are already at disproportionately high levels compared to other OECD countries.
    The cut was part of the omnibus 2014 Farm Bill. Just before signing legislation that reduced social services for the poor, MSNBC reported that “President Obama praised it as an example of bipartisan problem-solving that would help create jobs and move the American economy forward.”

  32. when we have a majority to support a law, it fails when monied intrests act like they are the loosers. obviously recent issues in credit and banking have made protection a must do. when we see so-called professionals use dubious tactics to screw the working class,and the republicans stand strong to further our demise, its obvious whose suppoting who. so then its simple, right wing screwers, with right wing politicians,in collusion to screw the people. sounds normal to me.(by todays attitude)maybe in the help wanted ads we move bankers and law makers from the professional colum to the general help wanted ads, until they grow up.

  33. Gerald,

    “Perhaps Marx had his facts straight but with the wrong prescription for reform of capitalism. I have the fleeting hope that capitalism can somehow still survive the greed of its participants for fear that with its present trajectory we are headed toward authoritarianism.”

    Sheila: ” As I have previously noted, I am a capitalist, an advocate of market economics.”

    I’m a capitalist also. I have no other political choice. I agree with both Sheila and you.

    Working with Capitalism is the only way left to preserve our democracy short of domestic warfare. Bernie Sanders and his social democracy are an IDEOLOGICAL challenge to the establishment. Although I agree with much of his program, social democracy is not ascending, it’s FASCISM that is at this point in time.

    It is very difficult to stop the progression. It may be impossible but well worth the attempt. No doubt as Gore Vidal and others have stated: Capitalism under stress morphs toward Fascism as does the same for Socialism and Communism.

    From my experiences in the past, when PUT ON THE SPOT the OLIGARCHY backs off. The oligarchy did not create the Nazi Movement. It funded it. That’s not the case in America. The oligarchy started it here. They are much weaker both physically and in spirit than those responsible for the rise of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy.

    The movement in America is more like a re-creation than the real thing. I watched it grow for the past fifty years from its beginnings in Dallas. I question the courage of those responsible for the mess. I believe they would back-off if really pressed. They always have. However, If we wait too much longer, the Alt-Right will take control of the Movement and that will be a much different story. Then we will be facing the real thing.

    Both Hitler and Mussolini would laugh at the historical figure called Donald Trump. We need to take advantage of this opportunity. But, as I keep saying, TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

  34. I really don’t care who comes to the lead in getting the corrupt out of office. If DT continues his judicial appointments of ideologues and theocrats, it will be a coup accomplished. Pointing fingers of blame does nothing to solve the problems we face. Start at the local, state level. If we can get past the gerrymandering, packing, fragmenting, religious indoctrination, revolving door lobbying and voter suppression, we might have a chance. In Indiana, the reactionary stronghold of stubborn willful ignorance, it is unlikely to change in my lifetime.
    I will still push back because my children and grandchildren must know that SOMEONE did something to change things for the better. Even if I fail, they will know that I fought for them.

  35. Gerald,

    To be more specific, the biggest problem is us. We can’t start to do anything unless we overcome what has happened in the past from the activities of the Democratic Leadership Council, the ADL/Southern Poverty Law Center Alliance, The New York Times and More. They’ve all SOLD OUT IN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. We can’t overlook this. They’ve had too much lasting effect on the political environment.

    We have to start from scratch, using what’s called a BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY. This strategy provides a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant. Let’s forget all recrimination with the above groups and really MOVE ON before it is too late.

    As I mentioned before, a good name for the political entity would be the ETHICAL FORUM. However, that’s not written in stone. But using the strategy and tactics of Sun Tzu, as a starter, is a must.

    See the”Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant” by W. Chan KIm and Ren’ee Mauborgne (Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, Boston, 2005).

  36. Marv – You give us much food for thought. I often write that I am trying to save capitalism if the capitalists will let me. Indeed another person (the PhD retired archivist of the Truman Library) and I have made a pact > that we will save the world or die trying, probably the latter. He recognizes the current threat to our democracy posed by ignorant leadership and runaway capitalism but, like me, is at a loss to stop the bleeding before the blood runs out. I hope that we can reform the. system at the polls, and I think our best bet is to reform our party’s principles to conform to the good of all in a very big tent – no more identity nonsense. We must persevere.

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