It All Comes Down to This

This is it. Just a few months shy of the two year anniversary of the financial meltdown that took our nation's economy to the edge of the abyss and cost 8 million Americans their jobs, Congress is on the verge of passing reform to rein in Wall Street and protect consumers. While we are close, we are not there yet. Obstacles to major reform remain and the Big Banks, with help from their allies on the Hill, are spending enormous amounts of money to protect the status quo and avoid meaningful reform.

With perhaps just 10 days away from final passage, now more than ever, your voice is needed. The Big Banks, and their high-priced fat cat lobbyists, are swarming the Hill everyday looking to weaken or kill the bill.

The choice members of Congress face between now and the Fourth of July is a simple one: Will they stand up to the Big Banks and Wall Street and support meaningful reform or will they allow the Big Banks to avoid reform again? This has enormous consequence for every American. We have seen the status quo and we simply cannot afford to let it continue.

In the next few days, members of Congress will make decisions that will determine if the bill is true reform or another missed opportunity. In the coming days we will see who in Congress is working for a bill that makes our financial system safer and more transparent, protects consumers and investors, and redirects banks to the core business of making safe loans to households and businesses, and who is opposing reform altogether, or working to weaken reform on behalf of the Big Banks and predatory lenders.

In particular, the derivatives portions of the bill, which emerged from the Senate strong, are under ferocious attack. The Senate legislation would effectively regulate this 600 trillion dollar market that was a root cause of the financial crisis, and both drove the frantic expansion of subprime lending, and turned a housing market collapse into a global meltdown, while the House bill has too many exceptions to get the job done. With tens of billions of dollars in income for the five largest players in the market at stake, they have every inventive to pull out all the stops to weaken the final product.

Congress also needs to pass strong consumer protections. We need to stop carve outs for auto dealers (the number one source of Better Business Bureau complaints) or lawyers or payday lenders--all of whom are fighting for their special exclusions or special access. And we need to make sure that the very businesses who need regulation don't get a first chance to influence new proposed rules, before the general public sees them.

We need to separate the riskiest business that banks engage in for their own accounts from commercial banking with a robust Volcker Rule strengthened by the language of the Merkley-Levin Amendment. This will not only ensure that we don't have taxpayer guarantees for bets that the banks are making with their own money (proprietary trading), but also make Goldman Sachs style conflict of interest - where financial firms sell products they are undermining and betting against - illegal. All of these vitally important elements of the bill are under attack from the Big Banks and their friends on the Hill.

We are so close to winning changes that matter -- we cannot let this opportunity slip away. But, we must do reform right. We can't let the Big Banks and their lobbyists drown out the voices of tens of millions of Americans who need Congress to stand up and pass real and meaningful reform.

Please have your voice heard. Call, email, write or visit your Congressperson or Senator today. Go to and sign our petition and e-alert. Critical decisions are being made as you are reading this blog. Tell your members of Congress that you expect them to stand up for you and not the Big Banks. Tell them they need to speak out NOW to support strong reform, and oppose efforts to weaken the bill, to strengthen the hands of our allies on the Conference Committee. We cannot afford the status quo, nor can we afford to wait any longer.