This weekend, the American Bankers Association (ABA) will be having its national, annual meeting in Chicago. Bankers from all over the United States will attend. There will be the usual overly-long speeches, cocktails and awards dinners – perhaps even an excursion to see the some of the colorful neighborhoods and local peoples.
But this time there will be a few thousand uninvited guests crashing the party.
An SEIU poll this week captured the mood of the country as unemployment and foreclosures continue to rise at the same time that the profits and bonuses of Wall Street financial firms are bouncing back. The poll showed that 74% of American voters believe: "The greed and risky decisions of banks and financial companies led to the financial crisis and recession, and it's time that Congress cracked down on their reckless practices to protect consumers.”
The folks in Chicago agree. “The banks collected $15,000 in bailouts for every man, woman and child in America. The top six banks still raked in $30 billion in profits already this year and are on pace to get nearly $150 billion in bonuses and compensation. It’s time to remind the banks that they took a loan from us...and payment is PAST DUE,” says the website for the march Stop Bank Greed.
The ABA is being targeted because it is a powerful lobbying force against financial service reform and consumer protections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the ABA has already spent $4.5 million in 2009 on federal lobbying efforts. These efforts including blasting the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, watering down the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights, tanking the bill to allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, undermining efforts to cap executive compensation, molding the TARP Reform and Accountability Act and other federal bailout programs to their liking. And of course the ABA is at the forefront of every fight to keep those bank fees uncapped and unregulated.
Why pick Chicago for the biggest protest yet against American Banksters? As Denise Dixon from Chicago-based Action Now says:
This crisis started in our communities. Foreclosure has devastated our neighborhoods, in some areas, 6 to 8 houses are foreclosed in every block. This protest will be as in-your-face and straight forward as you can get. Our community groups are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. It will be the largest taxpayer mobilization since the crisis hit.
The list of supporters and rabble rousers includes Change to Win, National Peoples Action, AFL-CIO, Jobs with Justice, Green Party, church groups, community groups, Michael Moore and many others.
Highlights: On Sunday, Oct 25, events begin with a Welcoming & Kick Off at 3:30 p.m. followed by community dinner. Monday, Oct 26, starts with an early morning training and education session called “What's Broken and How We Can Fix It,” followed by a day of action including a visit to Goldman Sachs’ Chicago headquarters where staff will be asked to donate their $23 billion bonus pool to prevent every foreclosure in America. Tuesday, Oct 27, the march to the ABA begins at 10:30 a.m. For details on the march and rally visit: Stop Bank Greed and Showdown in Chicago.
BanksterUSA will be there in our Bankster finest, hope to see you there!
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BanksterUSA is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy.