But sweetheart AG settlement still a real possibility

 

Congratulations! President Obama has heard the calls of the 99% and announced a full, federal investigation into the fraudulent activities of big banks.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama said:

“We’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable so crises like this never happen again … I intend to fight obstruction with action … And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”

Congratulations to all of you who fought for and won this amazing victory. This wouldn’t have happened without you.

Now we need to make sure that this investigation has real teeth-that all administration resources go to uncovering the truth about the activities of the big banks.

And in order to provide real and meaningful relief to millions of homeowners, the end result must be at least $300 billion in principal reduction and restitution for those who have lost their homes, especially targeted to the most hard hit communities. This will reset the housing market and the economy.

In the meantime, there is still a sweetheart deal in the works between state Attorneys General and the big banks. We must continue to fight and make sure the banks are held accountable for their crimes and that any agreement will not interfere with President Obama’s promised comprehensive investigation.

If you haven’t yet called President Obama to tell him “no sweeheart deals – we need a full investigation,” please call him today!

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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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Did your county pass it?

 

A record number of Iowa counties have again adopted the Master Matrix scoring system this year to give counties the right to appeal a factory farm permit issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).   Eighty eight counties passed it in 2012, up from 79 counties in 2010.  Thanks to all CCI members who contacted their county officials on this important clean water issue!

The Master Matrix is the only form of local control citizens have to stop factory farm construction permits. We need all 99 counties on board!

Click here to see the DNR’s map of counties. If your county is on the list below, they did not pass the Master Matrix for 2012 – urge them to pass it next year.

  • Decatur
  • Iowa
  • Jasper
  • Keokuk
  • Lee
  • Mahaska
  • Osceola
  • Plymouth
  • Wapello
  • Warren
  • Washington

 

The construction evaluation resolution—also known as the Master Matrix—is the only tool available to citizens to stop proposed factory farm construction sites. Meaning if your county doesn’t pass it, you and your neighbors might be S.O.L (manure.outof.luck) when it comes time to fight a factory farm in your area.

Every year, each county’s board of supervisors must vote to readopt the resolution and mail it in to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources before Jan. 31. We firmly believe that all counties should have local control over factory farm siting.

 

 

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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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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How President Obama can fix the Housing Crisis and Create Jobs

 

A new report released today by Iowa CCI and the New Bottom Line coalition delivers a win/win way for President Obama administration to fix the housing crisis and create jobs. For Iowa this solution would pump $140 million into our Iowa economy and create 2,000 Iowa jobs.

 

>>Read the report here: “Iowa Underwater: How President Obama Can Fix the Housing Crisis and Create Jobs.”

From the report:

More than 43,000 Iowans have lost their jobs since the start of 2008, and 37,612 are expected to lose their home sby the end of 2012….

 

But the Obama Administration and the banks can do something right now to change all that. Requiring banks to write down all underwater mortgages to market value could:

  • Pump $139,123,396 into Iowa’s economy every year;
  • Create more than 2,056 jobs in Iowa;
  • Save Iowa families an average of $373 per month on mortgage payments;
  • Decisively fix the foreclosure crisis.

…underwater mortgage debt is on of the primary drags on economic recovery.

 

The report, calls on the President to:

  • Allow the state Attorneys General to conduct a full investigation into the fraudulent and illegal activities of the Wall Street banks that caused the foreclosure;
  • Ensure that the big banks are not let off the hook for their crimes. There cannot be a broad release of claims in any current or future settlement talks with the big banks;
  • Require a minimum of $200 – $300 billion from the big banks in principal reduction for underwater homeowners.

“In Des Moines alone, 24 percent all mortgages are underwater,” said CCI member Mike McCarthy of Des Moines, “if President Obama required the banks to fix what they broke and write down the principal on all underwater mortgages to current market value, he could inject a direct cash stimulus into State’s economy of $139,123,396   – at no cost to the taxpayers.

“The banks can afford to write down principal for underwater homeowners and pay restitution to defrauded homeowners,” McCarthy said, “U.S. banks raked in $35 billion in profits this summer alone and are sitting on a historically high level of cash reserves of $1.64 trillion.”

>>Read the new report Iowa Underwater here.

 

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