The Senate passed legislation that’s gonna repeal protections that had been put in place with the Dodd Frank Act. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Peter Mougey discuss this issue.

Transcript:

Mike Papantonio: The Senate passed legislation this week that’s gonna repeal protections that had been put in place with the Dodd Frank Act. This move is gonna leave us vulnerable, even more criminal activity’s gonna take place with America’s biggest bank. Now, Peter, this is right up your alley.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: After the first, the theft by the big banks, they stole gazillions of dollars from the American public. You brought lawsuits against some of those thieves.

Peter Mougey: Hundreds of them, right.

Mike Papantonio: You brought hundreds of lawsuits against those thieves. Shearson Lehman, they escaped totally, right? Shearson Lehman, you know, if you lost a hundred thousand dollars because of Shearson Lehman fraud, you maybe got back $15000.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: That was kind of the ratio. Then tax payers came in and they-

Peter Mougey: The big bailout.

Mike Papantonio: They gave relief, bailed out, in other words. So talk about this a little bit. We got Congress saying, you know, “We need to do this again.” That’s basically what this is inviting. Let’s do this again.

Peter Mougey: To really kind of frame this up, the Dodd Frank Act came out right after the huge market meltdown in 2007 and 2008. That market meltdown was built on Wall Street greed. Essentially taking risk that benefited CEOs, senior management, but that risk was shoved onto shareholders and ultimately American taxpayer. So right after that decline, Congress, the Obama Administration put in all kinds of safeguards that said, kind of too big to fail. There were all these tests, so let’s choose one ’cause it’s kind of an easy one.

Stress tests. Stress tests are the banks run and they say, “I’ll tell you what, we’re going to run this stress. What happens if the economy collapses? What happens if inflation, the dollar…” It comes in and it tests, stresses the banks and says, “Where are your weak spots?” It’s costly, it takes some time but it’s very, very… it protects the American consumer and makes sure that the banks aren’t taking too much risks.

Well Wall Street’s done a phenomenal job. The banks have done a great job, employed thousands of lobbyists, spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying. So Dodd Frank never really gets implemented, just small bits and pieces of it. Now fast forward all the way to the new proposed bill-

Mike Papantonio: Back up just a second. People don’t even realize, they think Dodd Frank is out there but no, Wall Street has stopped it at every turn.

Peter Mougey: Oh yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Every turn. We don’t even have the full benefit of Dodd Frank.

Peter Mougey: No not even a fraction of it. There was hundreds and hundreds of proposals, a small, tiny amount of them were passed. Mostly because Wall Street beat them back through lobbying efforts.

Mike Papantonio: Okay so this is one proposal-

Peter Mougey: So the argument though, which always drives me nuts, the argument is, “All these are too costly. These are too expensive. They’re too time consuming, it slows down growth. It impedes lending, it restricts capital” but at the same time, I mean, how many trillions of dollars were caused by Wall Street’s greed in the 07 and 08 collapse? Now what they’ve done is that the Senator Mike, is it Crapo, Crapo?

Mike Papantonio: Crapo.

Peter Mougey: Crapo. I always forget how to pronounce his name. Maybe Crapo might be a little better.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, Crapo’s pretty appropriate.

Peter Mougey: He’s the chairman of the Senate Committee of Banking and they’re pushing this back, and effectively. It looks like they got enough votes. They need 60 votes and they’re pushing some of these back.

Mike Papantonio: Well, what about this, Peter. What about this? Now look, the thing that you’ve talked about so much when you bring these lawsuits in your pleadings, you talk about wild risks.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: You talk about the idea that these banks understood the wild risk that was involved but the risk, taking those wild risks, puts so much money in their pocket and at the end of the day, after they lost all the money. Sheer incompetence and greed. There’s no other reason. They were incompetent fools along with being greedy fools. So after they lose this money, the tax payers come in, they bail them out and they get to keep all the money they made. The CEOs keep every little dollar.

There’s a second part to this that really bothers me. Now you talked about there needed to be, under Dodd Frank, this small part of Dodd Frank, this stress test. Let’s take a look and see if you can withstand-

Peter Mougey: Some pressure.

Mike Papantonio: A problem, yeah. Okay but the second part is, how about telling us what you’re gonna do when you fail? This idea of sell off and liquidation. There was some protection there, too. Wasn’t there?

Peter Mougey: Absolutely. Essentially what they’ve done is they’ve turned this around. The lack of transparency, the lack of any reporting and what they’ve done is, and the definition of “What is too big to fail?” At one point it was $50 billion or more and now they’ve shrunk that number down-

Mike Papantonio: Well what it was is we wanted to look… if you are a bank and you had $50 million, billion dollars, that you’re gonna fall within these tests-

Peter Mougey: You’ve gotta run these stress tests.

Mike Papantonio: They wanna raise it to $250 billion.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: So in other words, the real crooks, the people that we bailed out, if you look at this, the real crooks, whether it’s BB&T, Sun Trust, American Express, those people-

Peter Mougey: Country Wide.

Mike Papantonio: Country Wide.

Peter Mougey: Country Wide’s the one that bothers me the most ’cause they’re the ones that caused a ton of the spending. Was the first one to decline.

Mike Papantonio: Okay and if this passes, they get a free ride.

Peter Mougey: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Because they say, “Hey we’re not a $250 billion operation” but if you look at the money they lost, it was massive and tax payers came back and paid their debt.

Peter Mougey: Think about it, some of the banks that went under. I mean, you’ve gotta be kidding me. We can’t run stress tests? We’re gonna decrease the transparency? All to increase the flow of capital. I mean, a couple words come to mind: short term memory. I mean, are we really gonna take away these protections?

Mike Papantonio: Well let me just tell you something, you talk about this being Crapo-

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: That went forward with this as a Republican, there were 13 Democrats in the Senate.

Peter Mougey: Oh yeah.

Mike Papantonio: 13 Democrats-

Peter Mougey: Oh yeah, evenly split [crosstalk] A co-sponsor.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, 13 Democrats, they’re co-sponsored by Democrats.

Peter Mougey: You know what that is, that’s the lobbying money and the political contributions.

Mike Papantonio: Well it’s the Wall Street Democrats that we talk about so often, you know? People, “Oh Democrat, Democrat-” No, Democrat is not Democrat. These are the same creeps, these are the Cory Booker types.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: You know, wanted to bail out the pharmaceutical industry. Cory Booker is kinda exhibit A of this type of politics.

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: But I mean, if you really…

Peter Mougey: Go back to that-

Mike Papantonio: Let’s name some names, I mean, Heitkamp from North Dakota, Joe Donnelly from Indiana, I mean these are people, they hold themselves out as being, “Yeah, we’re one of you. We care about people issues.” I gotta tell you something, some of these people, they wanna be up front on social issues, gender, they’re out front. Race, they’re out front. They’re out front on important issues but where it comes to issues that put food on the table for people, buddy, they’re gonna side with Wall Street every single time.

This was just 13 in this particular one but if you go back and you take a look at what’s happened this year in similar kinds of legislation, these people calling themselves Democrats in the public who really doesn’t even have a sense what a damn Democrat is anymore just by, “Oh yeah they’re Democrat, they must be for it.”

Peter Mougey: Before we move on in our story, the easy part of this to fix is to change the way that risk is shifted to the tax payer. That’s what you touched on earlier. If they just kept the risk born within that senior management, the ones that pocket the money if it does well with the stocks and the options, if we just took that away and kept the risk back at the corporate level, you’d see these problems melt away.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, well this will…. that’ll never happen.

Peter Mougey: No it won’t.

Mike Papantonio: Especially when Democrats are saying, “Yeah, we’re all for Wall Street.”

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.