BREAKING NEWS from our friends at the New Bottom Line coalition:

It’s the eleventh hour and the White House is about to strike a deal with big banks.

President Obama wants to be able to point to a big bank foreclosure settlement in Tuesday’s State of the Union as a measure of progress towards more Wall Street accountability. But the deal on the table is appalling, especially when compared to 2011 big bank bonuses.

Proposed total restitution for the millions of Americans who lost their home due to illegal foreclosure tactics: $20 billion. 1

2011 big bank bonuses: $144 billion. 2

Something is very wrong with this picture.

$20 billion is only a fraction of what is needed to reduce principal balances on millions of underwater homes; it is shameless that the White House isn’t demanding more money for principal reduction from the same big banks that crashed the economy.

Can you call the White House right now and tell them to launch a full investigation into Wall Street and make sure big banks are held fully accountable for the crimes that caused so many to lose their homes?

Right now big banks are sitting on an unprecedented mountain of cash: over $1.6 trillion. According to The New Bottom Line’s Pulling Back the Curtain report, big banks are set to award $144 billion in bonuses and compensation for 2011. The money is there.

We need the President to make sure Americans get back to work and keep their homes, not pad the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. He can do this by launching a full investigation of Wall Street, not just letting big banks off with the current sweetheart deal that is on the table.

Call the White House today and demand that any settlement with big banks:

1. Includes at least $300 billion in principal reduction

2. Includes a full investigation into Wall Street conduct leading up to and a during the financial crisis

3. Does not include blanket immunity for big banks from future legal challenges

 
Footnotes:  
1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-jones/obama-housing_b_1221921.html?ref=politics
2 http://www.newbottomline.com/the_new_bottom_line_releases_pulling_back_the_curtain_exposing_the_1_behind_the_2011_big_bank_bonuses

 

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Call Obama today and tell him to investigate Wall Street banks.

We know President Obama is with the 99% in words. Let’s make sure he’s with us in action, as well.

Call the White House and the Obama campaign office and tell them that the best way the President can win YOUR vote is by standing strong with homeowners and making sure banks pay their fair share in any settlement over mortgage fraud and illegal foreclosures.

 

Take just five minutes to make two calls now:

  • Call the White House at (202) 456-1111

  • Call Obama for America at (312) 698-3670

Tell him:

“Hi, my name is ________, and I am calling from Iowa. I’m calling to ask President Obama to stand up for homeowners and hold Wall Street accountable. There must be a full investigation into the big banks before any settlement is reached. Any settlement must include at least $300 billion worth of principal reduction for underwater homeowners.”

Once you’ve made your call, please let us know!

After you’ve made your call, read more about the big bank bonuses reaching near record levels in the new report: Pulling Back the Curtains.

 

Please click “Like” and “Tweet” below to ask your friends to take action, too!

Report from the New Bottom Line shows that bonuses would go a long toward helping struggling homeowners.

 

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:
PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN.PDF

While the rest of us continue to struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over our head, Wall Street has once again handed out mammoth bonuses in 2011. The nation’s top six banks—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs—paid out $144 billion in bonuses and compensation this year, making 2011’s payday the second highest on record for these six firms.

The New Bottom Line report, “Pulling Back The Curtain: The 1% Behind The Big Bank Bonuses” details this and more and is especially timely for two reasons:

1. The big banks are ballyhooing that their bonuses/compensation are way down and the press is buying the spin. They are still awarding themselves billions of dollars when they should be using that money for principal reduction, paying their fair share and providing good loans.

2. The Attorneys’ General and the White House are meeting today in Chicago to hammer out the final details of a settlement that will let the big banks get away with $20-$25 billion in principal reduction. This is nothing compared to the $700+billion of underwater homes right now.

Highlights of the report include:

  • The nation’s top six banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — paid out $144 billion in bonuses and compensation for 2011, second only to the record $147 billion they paid out in 2007 at the height of the economic boom.
  • Just half of the banks’ bonus and compensation pools would be enough to begin writing down the principals on all underwater mortgages in the country.
  • If the six banks took half of their bonus and compensation pool and put it directly into a public service jobs fund, they could create 1.8 million jobs, and still have enough money left over to pay the average employee $60,605.
  • Just 72% of the $144 billion in bonuses and compensation at the top six banks would have been enough money to plug the $102.9 billion in budget holes for all 50 states for the current fiscal year.
  • The report gives examples of how the money could be spent in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, and Ohio. For example, just nine minutes of bonuses and compensation at Wells Fargo would be enough to restore $1.9 million in cuts to the Iowa DNR.
  • The report states that average banker pay at the six biggest banks hit an all-time high in 2011. The average employee at these banks will take home $121,209 for 2011, more than twice the national median household income of $49,445. At pure investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, average bonuses and compensation in 2011 were double and triple the $121,209 figure.

“Pulling Back The Curtain” also provides a behind the scenes look at why these bonus and compensations numbers are approved by profiling a cross-section of the six big bank boards of directors.

Our Solution:

Given that the country is in an economic crisis triggered by the banks’ mortgage fraud, the report calls on Wall Street to reject these high bonuses and compensations and “start investing back in the 99%” by:

  • writing down principals on underwater mortgages;
  • doing fair and sustainable loan modifications to prevent foreclosures;
  • increasing lending to small businesses;
  • making affordable loans to families, states, and local governments; and
  • paying their fair share of taxes.

Iowa CCI is a proud and active member of the New Bottom Line, a coalition of community, faith-based and labor organizing groups from across the country working to make life better for everyday people everywhere.

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A new report released today by Iowa CCI national ally National People’s Action has some alarming statistics for Iowa.

 

FIND THE NEW REPORT HERE:
PROFITING FROM POVERTY.PDF

 

 

The report shows that:

  • capping payday loan interest rates at 36 percent would save Iowans over $36 million every year. (That’s $36 MILLION that is being stripped away from our local economy!)
  • there are 220 payday lenders in Iowa. (There are more payday lending shops than there are McDonald’s in Iowa!)
  • nearly half of all licensed payday lenders in Iowa have been financed by big banks. Wells Fargo and Bank of America are the top financiers of payday lending across the country.

Payday loans, widely available in 32 states, online, and increasingly by banks as well, are short-term small dollar loans averaging less than $400 but charging annualized interest rates of 400% or more. Efforts to cap the rates on these loans have stalled in the Iowa legislature for the past several years.

“If you want to talk about creating jobs in Iowa, let’s talk about putting more cash in the hands of consumers,” said CCI member Judy Lonning from Des Moines, “Let’s talk about lifting people of out of poverty instead of profiting off their crises.”

Major findings of “Profiting from Poverty”:

  • Record payday loan revenue: Nationwide, revenues for the major payday loan companies (Advance America, EZ Corp, First Cash Financial, Dollar Financial, Cash America, QC Holdings) have risen to their highest level – $1.48 Billion per year- more than before the financial crisis. Revenue from payday lending for the six largest payday lenders nationwide has increased a net 2.6% over the last four years (2007 to 2010).
  • Consumers pay billions in fees: Low and moderate-income borrowers pay minimum of $3.5 Billion in fees annually to payday lenders charging triple digit interest rates on small cash loans. The nation’s biggest banks fund a major segment of the payday lending industry that collects more than $1.5 Billion in fees from payday lending.
  • Stopping excessive interest rates can put money into our local economies: If payday loans charged only 36% in interest rates, instead of an average of 400%, payday loan borrowers could save over $3.1 billion annually.

The Bottom Line:

Because of the economic crisis we are facing, affordable solutions for people who seek and need these types of loans are necessary. Iowa CCI members call on the Iowa Senate Commerce Committee to pass SF 388, a bill designed to cap interest rates at 36%.

 

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You and I have a key opportunity to elevate our “People First” message in the media and with the political parties Jan. 3.

Since the national spotlight is on us, we are uniquely positioned to drive home – in a big way – a vision of good government that puts communities before corporations and people before profits.

That’s why we’re asking you to print out and take the resolutions below  to your caucuses and work to get them adopted into the party platform.  Our resolutions are woven together by a common theme – that government needs to work for everyday people and the 99%, not big money corporate interests and the 1%.

Step 1: Print out the resolutions

Step 2: Find your caucus location

All caucuses begin at 7 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 3. It is recommended you get there 20-30 minutes early. You must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican to participate in the party’s caucus, but don’t worry you can register or re-register at the door. Just in case bring your photo ID and a document, like a bill, that proves where you live. If you’ll be 18 by election day (11/6/12), you can participate!

Step 3: Attend and work to get your resolution introduced

Resolutions are general presented towards the end. Be prepared to read it aloud. If passed resolutions work their way up through both party platforms. It’s a great way to show party leaders that we’re fed up with business as usual from Washington DC, Wall Street and at our Iowa Statehouse.

Step 4: Let us know how it goes!

Contact us at 515-282-0484 or shoot us a line at iowacci @ iowacci.org to let us know your resolution passed and what precinct you are in. Also, don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions. 

 

Please click “Like” or “Tweet” below to encourage your friends to take these caucus resolutions to their caucus!

 

Congratulations!  We are excited to report that your work has taken a slice of The Nation magazine’s Most Valuable Progressive recognition for the third year in a row.

John Nichol’s writes: “What a difference a year makes! … This year we celebrate the remarkable movements that have arisen not just to stem the conservative tide but to build a new vision of progressivism for the twenty-first century. … The events of 2011 did not transform America. But they did confirm that millions of Americans are ready to fight for the 99 percent.”

Read The Nation’s full Progressive Honor Roll of 2011 here.

Iowa CCI’s recognition below:

MOST VALUABLE CONFRONTATION: Iowa CCI

 

When Mitt Romney came to the Iowa State Fair, he tried to peddle the fantasy that entitlement cuts are needed because the only alternative is to raise taxes on Americans. But his framing of a false choice failed when activists from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement hollered that we should “tax corporations.” Unnerved, Romney shot back, “Corporations are people, my friend.” “No, they’re not!” shouted the Iowa CCI crowd. “Of course they are,” replied Romney, who didn’t seem to realize he was embracing his own stereotype. In 2011 conservative candidates thought they could use Iowa as a backdrop for their extremist pitches. Iowa CCI didn’t let them get away with it—providing a model for how grassroots activists can mic-check even the most powerful politicians.

We’d like to think The Nation feels this way because they know, like we do, that the history of significant change in this country is based on organized action. And organized action is what Iowa CCI does best. Thanks to you our members and supporters for being a part of it.

 

CCI allies made the Honor Roll, too!:

  • The New Bottom Line coalition, of which Iowa CCI is a member, was recognized as Most Valuable Coalition for their work to build a broad and powerful push for a “new bottom line that puts the economic interests and financial security of working American families first” — before Wall Street profit that is.
  • And, Beat the Press, the work of populist economist Dean Baker, who spoke at our statewide convention in July was named Most Valuable News Source.

 

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