Washington is rigged for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists. Last week, we got a close look at what really goes on.
House Republicans slipped a provision into the must-pass, omnibus budget package in a secret, closed-door deal. Citigroup lobbyists literally wrote the provision to weaken the new rules on Wall Street and make it easier for the biggest banks to get bailed out again in the future. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon personally called up members of Congress to lobby for their votes.
Nobody likes bailouts. Democrats don’t like bailouts. Republicans don’t like bailouts. But Wall Street proved again that with enough money and enough power, they can tilt the playing field in Washington a little more in their favor.
I fought my heart out against that provision last week. So did tens of thousands of people who signed petitions, who called their representatives, who tweeted and Facebooked, and who spoke out about it.
We lost this time. But here’s what I want you to remember: It’s better to fight and lose than not to fight at all.
It’s better to fight because if you don’t fight, you can’t win. Besides, even when you don’t win, you can change the game. Here’s a snippet from an article in The Hill newspaper earlier this week that shows what I mean:
“One senior financial industry executive said the dust-up over the funding bill has forced the industry to recalibrate its lobbying priorities for the coming year. Given Warren’s megaphone, the executive said, getting through the next Congress without new restrictions on large banks would constitute a win.”
Sure, that’s just one person’s opinion. There are a lot of other people who work for big banks on Wall Street and in Washington who are salivating right now, making perfectly clear they view this as the beginning of a larger assault on financial reform. But without our fight, they would be looking at a much easier path to more bank handouts.
We know that our job is going to get tougher in 2015. Mitch McConnell has been saying for months – both out in the public and in secret meetings with the Koch brothers – what his plan will be when Republicans take control of the Senate: use every trick and political game they can think of to undermine President Obama and grind the government's work to a halt.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to fight back for working families. To fight back for people who couldn’t get health insurance for years and don’t want Republicans to take their new insurance away. To fight back for Social Security and Medicare so seniors can retire with dignity. To fight back for the environment so our grandkids will be able to breathe the air and drink the water. To fight back for accountability and a level playing field so nobody steals your purse on Main Street, or your pension on Wall Street.
That’s why we’re here: To fight the big fights. We won’t always win, but darn it, we’re going to try.
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for your support, for your time, for your voice, and for your fight. We’re a team, you and I. I never forget that.