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 TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest 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 CrapoBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft Trump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul 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 Hale BarrFarm manager doubts story horse bit Pence: report McConnell accepts Democratic rep's challenge to 5 debates McConnell campaign criticized for tombstone with challenger's name 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 HollingsworthOvernight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border House votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran 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 CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform 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 Gillibrand Gillibrand relaunches PAC to elect women Analysis: 2020 digital spending vastly outpaces TV ads Two years after Maria, Puerto Rico awaits disaster funds 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 Ann WarrenWarren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted 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.