U.S. Financial Devastation

You've Been Betrayed

The disparity between the 99% and the 1% just keeps growing and growing. How did we get here? The 2008 financial crisis and the forces that led to it are a prime example of how we got here.

In the ten years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, Wall Street investment banks, hedge funds and commercial banks invested more than $5 billion in Washington, D.C. politicians and lobbyists to repeal the rules that kept their greed in check. With an army of nearly 3,000 lobbyists, and nearly $2 billion in contributions to Republicans and Democrats, they succeeded.

And the rest of America lost.

Laws dating as far back as the 1930s that were put in place to protect the public after the Great Depression of the 1930s were rolled back, allowing the financial industry to make reckless bets using borrowed money. Wall Street lawyers and accountants fabricated and trafficked in trillions of dollars worth of artificial “investment vehicles” that had no connection to a tangible product– they existed merely to encourage financial speculation. The casinos of Wall Street engaged in unconscionable predatory lending that offered huge profits for a time, but led to dire consequences when the loans proved unpayable. And they created and maintained a massive housing bubble.

When this house of cards collapsed in the Fall of 2008, it threw the United States and the world into a deep recession. Through no fault of their own, tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings.

Then Wall Street got bailed out by Washington. The same political establishment that sold America out in exchange for Wall Street money stepped in to rescue Wall Street executives with over a trillion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money. Not one major Wall Street executive has spent even a day in jail for this crime against America.

Meanwhile the rest of America has been left to fend for itself. The political establishment did virtually nothing to ease the pain on Main Street.

America is still suffering from the 2008 financial crisis. Hundreds of millions of Americans struggle to pay their mortgages, credit cards, college loans and still put food on the table. Washington says that unemployment is at record low levels. But truth about our country is different: Americans are working multiple low-paying jobs, renting out their homes and using their cars as taxis, trying to make ends meet. Gone with the stable, good-paying jobs is pride and confidence in the future. Poverty, an opioid epidemic and unprecedented suicide rates have hollowed out America’s heartland, and its heart.

Make no mistake: today’s divided America is the result of this Great Betrayal.

In March 2009, the Consumer Education Foundation released a report, “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America.” This report details how Wall Street eventually crashed the financial system.

The Proposed 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Corporate money has corrupted our Democracy. Our elected officials don’t pay attention to regular Americans because we don’t supply them with the money they need to get elected.
As explained in “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” the financial industry bought what it wanted from Washington – the ability to operate without any rules – and then drove the American economy into a ditch.

In politics, money has truly become the root of all evil. There have been many attempts to limit the ability of corporations to empty their treasuries on behalf of candidates and causes who will contribute to their bottom line. Indeed, after every national scandal, public outrage has forced lawmakers to impose restrictions on corporate donations and lobbying. But a series of court decisions gradually whittled away those laws on the ground that spending money on lobbyists and elections is exercising “freedom of speech” and therefore protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The final blow to our democracy came in 2010, when the United States Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as human beings under the First Amendment. According to the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the right of corporations to spend money to influence elections, even covertly, and to give money and gifts to politicians for the purpose of influencing their votes, is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be limited or regulated.

The Supreme Court’s decision has unleashed a tidal wave of corporate money, often undisclosed, into U.S. elections, one that has drowned out the voices of average Americans and turned our country into an aristocracy in which the People are taxed for the benefit of the powerful elites that run Wall Street and Washington.

All Americans – no matter what your political beliefs – will lose if this Supreme Court decision stands. Our own freedom of speech under the First Amendment is negated when corporations with vastly greater resources start exercising their “freedom of speech.” The only way to stop this nightmare and restore the rights of Americans is to pass a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Here’s the Amendment we propose:
“The protections of the First Amendment that apply to the spending of money on lobbying and elections, whether by contributions, expenditures or otherwise, shall extend only to human beings.”