Monday, October 13, 2008

Editorial on Federal Bailout Bill

I contacted Rep. Lew Evangelidis to ask permission to publish his editorial. I agree with his sentiments:

Subject: Editorial on Federal Bailout Bill

Dear Citizen,

Like so many of you, I am very frustrated and upset with the current affairs with our Federal Government and the $700M  bailout bill.  I have always felt as though special interest money has led to a disservice of the American People.  I think this a critical time in American History when people are upset and paying attention. I have submitted the attached editorial to many papers across Massachusetts.  If you agree with my sentiments I would ask you to forward it to your e-mail list so we can continue the dialogue of how to make our Government more representative of the people. As always, I hope that you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather here in New England.

Sincerely,

Lew Evangelidis 

Date: October 8, 2008

 Where is our Abraham Lincoln when we really need one?

The culpability of Wall Street in our current fiscal meltdown has been clear.  What needs to be equally clarified is the culpability of our elected officials in Washington D.C.  The American people must hold both political parties accountable for passing legislation and allowing deregulation of the banking and investment industries. These actions are at the root of our current crisis. 

 This was a bi-partisan betrayal of the American people for which we are now being asked to pay the bill; to the tune of $700 billion.  What must come out of this crisis is getting the special interest money out of our politician’s p ockets once and for all. 

I offer a brief history on how we got here. Following the Great Depression of 1933 the Glass-Steagall Actwas passed which set a clear boundary line between commercial banks and investment companies.  This separation protected our deposits in banks, forcing banks to choose between being a simple bank or an investment firm. Beginning in the 1960’s banks started lobbying Congress to allow them to enter the bond markets, leading to a lobbyist subculture around Glass-Steagall. Some lobbyists were overheard bragging about how the bill put their kids through college.  Over the past twenty years our Federal Government has dismantled these protections, which directly led to our current condition.  Both parties participated in these repeals and both have been compensated greatly for their cooperation by the banking and investment industries.  The most min imal research shows how thoroughly our politicians have “for sale” signs displayed on their office doors. The number one contributors to the last Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, were those in the securities and investments industries.  The current Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, these same interests are number two on her contribution list, only behind lawyers.  These lobbyists, PAC’s, Corporations and special interests are deeply embedded in both of our political parties. Corporate interests almost single handily pay for each parties national conventions and nearly every candidates war chest up for re-election.  It is hard to imagine how any of these interests help the American people get a better Government.

 Congress passed several bills during the 80’s and 90’s culminating in the 1999 Financial Modernization Act which was the ultimate repeal of the separation of banks and business firms.  In the 1997-98 election cycle prior to the passage of this bill, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries ( referred to as the FIRE sector) spent over $200 million on lobbying and made more than $150 million in political donations. This is a repeat of The Savings & Loan scandal which cost the taxpayers over $200 Billion just 17 years ago.

 Incredibly, the very same lobbyists that helped to create our fiasco have now descended like vultures onto Capital Hill to get their piece of this $700 billion pork loaded bailout. This is playing out like a Shakespearian Comedy, a very unfunny one at that. Unless we, the American people, wake up it will soon be back to business as usual on Capital Hill. 

We the people have a chance.  Our forefathers set up our Constitution where the people have the final say.  I propose the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  This Amendment would ban all lobbyists, PAC’s, Special Interests, unions and corporations from contributing to any candidate seeking public office in this country.  How do we as American’s benefit from allowing these interests to have such influence to dictate our laws? These last few weeks have clearly demonstrated the heavy costs to the American People of the status-quo. A Constitutional Amendment is certainly a dramatic step for our country, but also our greatest hope to restore a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

I represent the First Worcester District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and I can be reached at Rep.LewisEvangelidis@hou.state.ma.us

 

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