On May 24, 2021 at 12:00PM Eastern AFR’s Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Park testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets on Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). Download the full written testimony here. Written Testimony before the House Financial
Despite wanting to move their money, many consumers have found that it can be quite difficult to switch. Banks have deliberately made the process of switching more complicated than it needs to be. Cities and municipalities have faced even greater difficulties in moving their money to community banks and credit unions. There are changes that can be made that would give consumers a real choice by making it easier for them to switch banks and would make it easier for municipalities to move their money.
During the 2019-20 election cycle, Wall Street spent at least $2.9 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying to influence policy in Washington, according to a report released today by Americans for Financial Reform. That total, which amounts to $4 million a day, shatters the previous record of $2 billion set in the 2015-16 presidential cycle. The highest-ever level of spending by Wall Street banks and financial services reflects the industry’s relentless push to influence decision-making, regardless of the party that controls Congress or the executive branch.
In the 2019-20 election cycle, Wall Street banks and financial services interests reported spending $2.9 billion to influence decision-making in Washington. That total – officially reported expenditures on campaign contributions and lobbying – works out to $4 million a day. This level is a full 50 percent above the previous record of $2 billion in the previous presidential cycle, reflecting the industry’s enduring effort to influence policy no matter which party controls Congress and the executive branch.
On January 6, 2021, Congress was scheduled to formally certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. But based on spurious allegations of voter fraud, 147 Republican members of the Senate and the House of Representatives voted to object to either the results in Arizona or Pennsylvania or both. Individuals and entities associated with the financial sector reported making a total of $43,483,590 in contributions to these members.
Today, banking regulators announced that they would not be extending one of the largest elements of pandemic-related regulatory relief, the exemption that allowed banks to remove almost $2 trillion in government securities assets from their balance sheets for the purposes of complying with capital regulations. That was the right thing to do.
The American Federation of Teachers is advising its pension trustees with more than $3 trillion under management to review their private equity investments after a new report exposed the diminished returns and structural risks associated with the industry.
Wall Street billionaires have escaped paying their fair share of taxes for decades, thanks to laws they themselves have had an outsize influence in shaping. This bill requiring the ultrarich to pay some tax on their wealth, which was too often accumulated through predatory business models that extracted wealth from workers and communities, is an important step forward for economic justice.
Sen. Warren and Rep. Jayapal’s Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021 could not be a more timely reminder that the United States needs serious policy changes to address massive wealth and income inequality. Wall Street is the second-largest source of billionaire wealth, after the technology industry. While 8 million Americans slipped into poverty and half a million lives were lost to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic — all with a disproportionately large impact on communities of color — the wealth of U.S. billionaires almost doubled, up $1.3 trillion.