The financial collapse of 2008 got its start with predatory mortgages, that weren't sold by community banks and credit unions, they were sold by fly by night mortgage brokers who had almost zero federal oversight and then the big banks looked over, saw the profit potential and they wanted it bad. So they jumped in and sold millions of these terrible mortgages while the bank regulators just looked the other way.
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In a democracy, hostage tactics are the last resort for those who can't otherwise win their fights through elections, can't win their fights in Congress, can't win their fights for the Presidency, and can't win their fights in Courts, For this right-wing minority, hostage-taking is all they have left - a last gasp of those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy.
We lose eight children and teenagers to gun violence every day. If a mysterious virus suddenly started killing eight of our children every day, America would mobilize teams of doctors and public health officials. We would move heaven and earth until we found a way to protect our children. But not with gun violence.
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The President's policy proposal, known as 'chained CPI,' would re-calculate the cost of living for Social Security beneficiaries. That new number won't keep up with inflation on things like food and health care -- the basics that we need to live. In short, 'chained CPI' is just a fancy way to say 'cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans.'
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There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
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Otis, on the other hand, didn't miss home a bit. He had always hated the stairs in our house in Massachusetts. He was now five years old and very large for a golden retriever. I thought he was fat, but Bruce insisted he was just "big-boned". Either way, climbing the steep stairs at home was a challenge. Whenever Bruce and I went upstairs, Otis would sit near the bottom step, carefully calculating whether we would be on the second floor long enough to make it worthwhile to heave himself up the stairs. And on the way down the stairs, Otis was like a fully loaded eighteen-wheeler barreling down a steep hill. We just got out of his way. But in the new Washington apartment building, Otis had an elevator. As far as he was concerned, life was sweet.
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There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there - good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory... Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea - God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
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I'm still very connected to my family, to the world I grew up in. I understand what it means to be afraid that you can't pay a doctor's bill. Or to have to make the choice between buying a band uniform for a seventh-grader and making the insurance payment on time. That will never leave me. It was how I lived until I was well into my adult years.
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Look around. Oil companies guzzle down the billions in profits. Billionaires pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, and Wall Street CEOs, the same ones the direct our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. Does anyone here have a problem with that?
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You know, if you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night, every single individual associated with this. I think that's fundamentally wrong.
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Right now, with millions of Americans still out of work, and struggling to recover from the worst economic downturn since the great depression, with 40 million Americans dealing with student loans, with millions of people working full-time at minimum wage and still living in poverty, with the big banks getting bigger and the workers getting poorer, and seniors struggling to make ends meet, Republicans in Washington have decided the most important thing for them to focus on is how to deny women access to birth control.
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Student loan debt is crushing young people. And so they're not doing the things we would expect them to do. They're not moving out of their parents' homes in as big a numbers, they're not saving up money for down payments, they're not buying homes or cars or starting small businesses or doing any of the things that help move this economy forward.
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Big banks churn out page after page of incomprehensible fine print to obscure the cost and risks of checking accounts, credit cards, mortgages and other financial products. The result is that consumers can't make direct product comparisons, markets aren't competitive, and costs are higher. If the playing field is leveled and the broken market fixed, a lot more money will stay in the pockets of millions of hard-working families. That's real stimulus - money to families, without increasing our national debt.
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My mother saved our home with a minimum wage job. But in the 1960s, a minimum wage job would support a family of three above the poverty line. Not today. Not even close. I understood right then that people can work hard, they can play by the rules, and they can still take a hard smack.
I get heartfelt thanks from all kinds of people. Today I heard from a waitress in Georgia who has lost her job and is trying to figure out how her local bank can change the terms on her credit card, and I heard from a physicist at a major research university who wants to explain a better theory of financial stress tests.
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The administration [ of Barack Obama ]says I'm wrong, that there's nothing to worry about. They say the deal is nearly done, and they are making a lot of promises about how the deal will affect workers, the environment and human rights - promises. But people like you can't see the actual deal.
Get out of debt. In a world of stagnant incomes and rising core expenses like mortgage and health care costs, that's a lot easier said than done. The middle class is under enormous pressure. But families can stop the bleeding by reducing their reliance on debt wherever they can. They can also start fighting back by taking a hard look at whom they do business with and rethinking whether they want tricks-and-traps banks to hold their money. They can also demand that public officials take the side of families over the side of banks.
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I do not understand how it is that financial institutions could think that they could take taxpayer money and then turn around and act like it's business as usual. I don't understand how they can't see that the world has changed in a fundamental way, that it is not business as usual when you take taxpayer dollars.
You have two pages, that's the whole credit card agreement. The terms are clear and flat and easy to see so anyone can read them. So you could lay four credit cards in front of you and say, 'Oh, that's the one that has the highest rate, that's the one that has the really scary provision that could hurt me.'
The bankers might not have said it in so many words, but gradually their strategy emerged: Target families who were already in a little trouble, lend them more money, get them entangled in high fees and astronomical interest rates, and then block the doors to the bankruptcy exit if they really got in over their heads.
There's a lot of research on the shift in who deals with money when families get in trouble. In good times, husbands handle the family's finances about 80 percent of the time. But when times turn sour and families start dealing with creditors and managing unpayable bills, women take more active roles.
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Americans understand that the game is rigged, and they've had enough of it. They're ready to fight back. They want a Washington that works for them, i think that people are getting more engaged, politically, and they're seeing through a lot of the rhetoric that politicians have been throwing out there for a long time. They want to see some real change, and I think that's what we need to work on.
You built a factory out there, good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
Evidently there is no need for delay, no need for further study, if the government takes a loss and Wall Street makes a profit, but it is absolutely necessary to delay if homeowners might have a chance to cut their mortgages and stay in their homes. This is wrong, and it is time to fight back!
People who graduate are more resilient financially, and they weather economic downturns better than people who don't graduate. And, throughout their lives, people who graduate are more likely to be economically secure, more likely to be healthy, and more likely to live longer. Face it: A college degree puts a lot in your corner.
When I first started talking about running for office, a lot of people said to me, 'Don't let the consultants change you,' and I'd always assured them that I wouldn't allow it to happen. But like it or not, I had to change. Not because of a consultant, but because I started to understand the cost of a stupid mistake.
I have voted against only one of President Obama's nominees: Michael Froman, a Citigroup alumnus who is currently storming the halls of Congress as U.S. Trade Representative pushing trade deals that threaten to undermine financial regulation, workers' rights, and environmental protections.
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