Guest: Bartlett Naylor, former U.S. Senate Banking Comm. investigator; Also: New Russia sanctions, FL bridge collapse, TX chemical explosion...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2018, 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why in the world did 16 U.S. Senate Democrats vote in favor of gutting central provisions of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill, as originally put in place by Congress after the 2008 global financial meltdown to avoid another such catastrophe? That and many other disasters covered on today's show. [Audio link is posted at end of article.]

Ironically enough, the new bank deregulation bill was passed on Wednesday with the votes of those Democrats and all of the Senate Republicans on the tenth anniversary of the 2008 collapse. We're joined today by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee's former chief investigator, BARTLETT NAYLOR, who is now Financial Policy Advocate for Public Citizen's Congress Watch division. He explains what this bill will do and how it allows for the same type of dangerous speculation by big Wall Street banks that led to the Great Recession ten years ago.

Naylor says the bill is "going to take the guardrails down" for banks that have less than $250 billion in assets. "This is a class of banks that collectively took some $50 billion of bailout money. A dozen of them have engaged in misconduct and have been sanctioned by regulators int he last three or four years. This class would have included Countrywide, [which] made so many bad loans that it toxified the entire industry. By taking their eyes off this class, it invites another financial calamity."

He also offers his thoughts as to why it is that those 16 Democrats appear so willing to do the bidding of the Big Bank lobby, even as many other Democrats, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren of MA and Sherrod Brown of OH, strongly opposed the measure. "I suspect it's about campaign contributions, but I don't know why any Senator who is up for re-election wants to tell his or her constituents that they're trying to help the banks," Naylor tells me. "They're not trying to help consumers, they're trying to help the banks."

"Labor unions, faith groups, civil rights groups, consumer advocacy groups such as ours," all oppose the bill. "The only people that are supporting this bill are bankers," he argues. Naylor says it could still be stopped before final passage while it is being reconciled with an even more draconian U.S. House version. Donald Trump campaigned on gutting the protections of the Dodd-Frank law, whose provisions remain very popular among voters, adding still more questions as to why those Dems are going along with it, even in an election year.

All of that comes as Trump confirms his appointment of rightwing TV economist Larry Kudlow as his new top economic adviser, despite the fact that Kudlow had insisted the economy was booming under George W. Bush --- ("There's no recession coming," Kudlow wrote at the time. "It's not going to happen.") --- during the very same month in which economists have since concluded the Great Recession actually began.

But, all of those stories, sadly, are not the only disasters to report on today's show. We also cover the horrific pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami and a deadly explosion at yet another chemical plant in Texas today.

And all of that came after the White House announced new sanctions today against Russia, related to allegations of interference in the 2016 election and also for what the Administration describes as a concerted hacking operation targeting critical U.S. infrastructure like the energy grid, water and aviation systems and other key elements of the U.S. economy.

The Kremlin quickly vowed retaliation today in response to the new sanctions. And, while the move suggests somewhat of an about-face for this Administration, there still remains no explanation for why the Dept. of Homeland Security --- as concerned about hacks to our infrastructure as they claim to --- have yet to forensically examine any of the nation's extremely vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems (or even count any of the ballots!) for evidence of manipulation during the 2016 Presidential election.

Finally today, after late breaking news that Donald Trump, Jr.'s wife Vanessa is reportedly filing for divorce, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the nomination of Trump's CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become the nation's first climate science denying Secretary of State. Because everything is awesome!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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