Midterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street

Midterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street
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Ten years ago, Wall Street crashed the economy, destroying pensions, jobs and homeownership. People organized and fought back and put important reforms in place with the Dodd-Frank law and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

These steps forward were a down payment on the much tougher measures needed to rein in the power of Wall Street banks and the billionaire class in American society. 

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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE came to power in part because so many ordinary Americans felt that they weren’t benefiting from an economy that for 30 years has mainly benefited the top 1 percent.

 

Now he is channeling resentment to focus it on immigrants and the poor while he works to free his friends on Wall Street from the rules. But the November elections give ordinary people the ability to strike back.

On this eighth anniversary of Dodd-Frank, we need to sound the alarm and mobilize as never before to elect Democrats to Congress who will prevent Trump and the Republicans from returning us to the policies that led us into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. 

I was the founding executive director of Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), now a coalition of over 200 organizations that coordinated the campaign to rein in the Wall Street abuses. We fought in the streets, in the halls of Congress, in the press and on Wall Street.

We won protections for consumers, and CFPB’s founding leadership won nearly $12 billion in relief for over 29 million American consumers. 

Recently, Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate panel to vote on controversial Trump Fed pick Shelton GOP skeptical of polling on Trump GOP: Trump needs a new plan MORE (R-Idaho) pushed through a bill, S. 2155, that eased supervision of large banks like American Express and SunTrust. The bill also made it easier for banks to discriminate against people of color who apply for home mortgages. The bill passed, as did a tax cut of which Wall Street is the main beneficiary.

For six years now, AFR has taken the public temperature on financial regulation. The public wants more, not less, and it’s true across parties, geography, race and income. A recent poll by the Take On Wall Street campaign found rock-solid support across those same constituencies for fighting racial discrimination in lending.

Likely voters were outraged to learn that Wall Street was the biggest recipient of the tax bill’s largesse and that Congress passed bills enabling discrimination in auto and home lending. 

This poll shows what we would have every reason to expect. The public is tired of Wall Street getting the elevator and the rest of us getting the shaft. Other surveys show similar results. Even Trump knew enough to rage at Wall Street and “the hedge fund guys” as a candidate — but only as a candidate. 

Elections matter and this is an issue that can matter in the elections. As we look toward the 2018 elections, Democratic challengers are taking the battle to Republican incumbents who are defenders of Wall Street. More should do so. 

Katie Porter, a former student of Sen. Warren (D-Mass.), is the Democratic nominee for a House seat in California. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Penn.), the recent winner of a Pennsylvania race, touted student debt relief in his platform.

Amy McGrath, the former fighter pilot in Kentucky, is targeting Rep. Andy BarrAndy BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Democrat Josh Hicks wins Kentucky primary to challenge Andy Barr McGrath fends off Booker to win Kentucky Senate primary MORE (R-Ky.), who sits on the House Financial Services Committee and who’s repeatedly voted to shred Dodd-Frank, over precisely this issue, and his support for predatory payday lenders.

Liz Watson, a labor lawyer challenging Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Nano Vision CEO Steve Papermaster says we may need a new TSA-like institution for dealing with future pandemics; Fauci says Trump didn't seek a slowdown on testing The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Hurd says China engaged in global disinformation campaign; US unemployment highest since Great Depression The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chef José Andrés says most political leaders today are not acting with urgency; Dems crafting 'Rooseveltian' relief package MORE (R-Ind.), has also talked up the issue. 

Groups that provide on-the-ground muscle for candidates running in November recognize the power of the issue. Wall Street pumped over $2 billion into American politics in the last election cycle and is on pace to outstrip that number for 2017-18.

But the Communications Workers of America decided to flip the script on Wall Street, attacking Wall Street’s contributions to Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanColorado governor directs officials to reexamine death of Elijah McClain in police custody Petition demanding justice for Elijah McClain surpasses 2 million signatures Ethics controversy rattles Hickenlooper's Senate bid MORE (R-Colo.) as an electoral cudgel.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the surprising winner in New York City, embraced the “financial transaction tax” in her platform, a much-needed levy on speculative trades that could finance human needs from Wall Street greed. But she’s not an outlier.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights The Hill's 12:30 Report: Fauci 'aspirationally hopeful' of a vaccine by winter MORE (D-N.Y.), who is often noted as a presidential candidate for 2020, also recently announced her support for same tax on Wall Street. Other potential presidential candidates, notably Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE, are ready to take on Wall Street.

Let’s celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dodd-Frank with a massive, popular counteroffensive aimed at restoring all of the protections in Dodd-Frank — and then truly restructuring the American economy so that it benefits ordinary Americans. The first engagement will be fought between now and Nov. 6.

There are many more of us than there are of them. That’s why if we fight, we will win. 

Heather Booth was the founding executive director of Americans for Financial Reform.