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Smells like Astroturf

As a U.S. Chamber of Commerce delegation descended on Capitol Hill today, Americans Financial Reform issued a warning to Congress to be wary of the Chamber’s rhetoric. The Chamber is out to kill any legislation that might rein in its big bank members. Whereas Americans for Financial Reform — a coalition of more than 200 national, state and local consumer, labor, retiree, investor, community, business, and civil rights organizations, including Public Citizen — is campaigning for real reform in our nation’s financial system.

From the letter:

Americans for Financial Reform urges you to reject the Chamber’s false rhetoric and to enthusiastically support the CFPA [Consumer Financial Protection Agency]. Like Chamber ads aimed at killing health care reform, which National Journal last week reported were secretly funded by the nation’s biggest health insurers, we believe the nation’s largest financial services firms are behind the Chamber’s multi-million dollar attack on the CFPA. […]  Firms like Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, PNC Financial Services, and M&I Bank are the Chamber’s real constituency and they are among the Chamber members the CFPA would actually regulate.

Meanwhile, the Chamber is also doing its best to frighten small business owners into falling in line behind Big Business.

Lawrence Summers, Director of the President’s National Economic Council, called the Chamber’s scare ads “the financial regulatory equivalent to the death panel ads being run with respect to health care.” After the House eliminated any doubt by explicitly exempting merchants, retailers and other non-financial businesses from CFPA oversight, the Chamber simply edited its ads to say the CFPA would hurt small business by restricting access to credit. 

If there ever were any questions about which side the Chamber is on – the public or the Wall Street fat cats – Chamber CEO Tom Donohue cleared them up last week when he defended the huge bonuses being paid to the executives of the TARP banks who took our economy to the brink of collapse. He likened the executives to “mad scientists” whose brilliance justifies their outsized pay.

Neither Congress nor the American public should have to accept the Chamber’s misleading and self-serving misrepresentations. We need to fix our economy and our financial system so that it works for the American public. The people are struggling, Congress. We need financial reform to create jobs and keep people in their homes. We hope you are listening.  

Flickr photo by purpleslog.