I spent most of my career studying what has happened to America's middle class and why working families are going broke. A few weeks ago, I gave a Powerpoint presentation on it at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention. At heart, I'm a pretty hard-core data nerd, and I love giving this type of talk.
The video here is long – 40 minutes – but if you care about the economic security of working families and what we can do to rebuild our middle class, I think you'll enjoy it.
Tonight I called out Donald Trump. While the rest of us were horrified by the 2008 financial crisis, Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown – because he figured he’d make more money from the misery of millions. Now that he’s sewn up the Republican nomination, he’s out there kissing the fannies of poor, misunderstood bankers, promising to dismantle the rules we put in place after that crisis to rein in Wall Street greed.
And while nurses, teachers, and dockworkers pay their fair share to support our military personnel who show courage and sacrifice for us every single day, Trump says he’s more than happy to dodge taxes.
Donald Trump has made it perfectly clear that he cares about exactly one person – Donald Trump. And that kind of man can NEVER be the President of the United States.
In just a few hours, the Senate Republicans will vote for a proposal to make it easier for giant Wall Street banks to cheat Americans out of their retirement savings.
That’s right, EASIER.
Here’s the deal: Many financial advisers already put their customers’ interests first, but a loophole in the law means scrupulous retirement advisers don’t have to —and it costs their customers $17 billion a year. The Department of Labor recently released a terrific new conflict of interest rule to close the loophole. The new rule is simple: all retirement advisers have to do what’s in the best interest of their customers. It’s so obvious that most people assume it already exists.
It didn’t exist – and if the Republicans have their way, it never will. Today on the floor of the United States Senate, the Republicans will publicly vote to overturn those new commonsense regulations. Unbelievable, right?
The Senate Republicans only need 51 votes today to send this to the President’s desk – and President Obama has already vowed to veto it. But the only way we can stop the Republicans from pushing these appalling bills on the Senate floor is if enough people pay attention – and if the Republicans feel some heat for what they’re doing.
Tell the Senate Republicans: Shame on you for pushing Wall Street’s agenda to weaken the new rules on retirement advisers.
Slick-talking retirement advisers have a lot to lose with this new conflict of interest rule. It’s been perfectly legal for them to receive free vacations, cars, bonuses and kickbacks for selling lousy retirement products to unassuming clients. And they have a lot of influence in Congress.
But I have a message for the Senate Republicans: We weren’t sent here to work for Wall Street and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists. We weren’t sent here to make it easier for financial institutions to cheat people.
Help us remind the Senate Republicans exactly who they work for. Before today’s vote, tell the Republican majority: Shame on you for cheating America’s working families.
Last night, I went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about one person: Donald Trump.
Because let’s be clear: Donald Trump doesn’t care about helping America’s working families. Donald Trump is interested in helping exactly one person, and that’s Donald Trump.
Sure, he does lots of name-calling and finger-pointing, but Donald Trump isn’t part of the solution – he’s the problem. He’s a guy who inherited a fortune, then kept it going by cheating people – always looking out for himself and no one else.
In case you missed it, take a look at the video of my talk with Stephen Colbert and share it with your Facebook friends:
Electing Donald Trump would be worse than having a fox guard the henhouse. As I told Stephen, it’s like calling an arsonist when your house is on fire.
No matter who you support in the primary, it’s up to all of us – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Vegetarians – to say No to Trump and to win back the Senate.
Most retirement advisers do what’s in their clients’ best interests – but not all of them.
Believe it or not, loopholes in the law have made it perfectly legal for some retirement advisers to sell lousy products to unsuspecting clients. Last year, my office put out a report showing the fancy vacations, luxury cars, even Super Bowl-style rings that retirement advisers can receive as kickbacks for selling certain retirement products – even if those products are bad options for their customers.
Patty Murray, Cory Booker and I have been fighting for a strong new Conflict of Interest rule that requires retirement advisers to put their customers first – and today, President Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez did just that.
The Obama Administration’s new, higher standard for retirement advice is a huge win for working families. Sign up now to join Patty Murray, Cory Booker and me in thanking President Obama and the Department of Labor for making retirement saving easier, fairer, and more secure for all Americans.
Lousy retirement advice is a much bigger problem than just a few bad apples. Americans lose over $17 billion a year from advisers and brokers who give them conflicted advice.
With literally billions of dollars on the line, the financial industry and its armies of highly-paid lawyers and lobbyists have spent years trying to stop this new Conflict of Interest rule.
And even though today’s announcement just means that the good retirement advisers who already put their clients’ interests first no longer have to compete against the ones that don’t, the lobbyists are going to use every trick in the book to weaken and water down this new rule any way they can.
President Obama and Secretary Perez stood up to the powerful interests to issue this strong new Conflict of Interest rule – and we need to keep standing by their side to protect it and make sure Congress doesn’t overturn the rule. Join Patty Murray, Cory Booker and me in thanking the Obama Administration for leveling the playing field for America’s families and to show our support.
Today’s announcement is the kind of change that people want to see in Washington. Government works when we have people on the frontlines fighting to make it work.
Each year, taxpayers spend an average of 13 hours preparing their taxes – and an average of $200 on tax preparation services and software. It’s crazy.
Why is it so expensive and complicated to do your taxes? Back in 1998, a Republican Congress passed – and President Clinton signed – a bill requiring the IRS to implement a simple “return-free” filing system by 2008. This system would give taxpayers the option of receiving tax returns already filled out for them with the information the IRS already has on hand. But nearly a decade after that system should have been completed, the Treasury Department still hasn’t fulfilled its legal obligation.
Instead, the IRS surrendered to pressure from the tax preparation industry – giant, powerful companies that make a lot of money off of complicated tax forms. Year after year, the IRS signs contracts with these private companies, agreeing not to create a free, online tax return preparation and filing service – even though it could save taxpayers time and money. And to make sure the IRS keeps tax filing difficult, the tax preparation industry spends millions of dollars lobbying Congress to block return-free filing systems.
The government works for American taxpayers – not for the tax preparation industry. That’s why I’m introducing the Tax Filing Simplification Act to help people file their taxes with less stress & fewer costs.
My new bill – cosponsored by Senators Ed Markey, Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen, Al Franken, and Tammy Baldwin – makes commonsense changes to the tax filing process:
- It prohibits the IRS from making agreements with the tax preparation industry to restricts its ability to provide free, online tax preparation or filing services.
- It directs the IRS to develop a free, online tax and filing service directly with the federal government, instead of being forced to share your private information with a third-party.
- It allows all taxpayers to download third-party-provided tax information that the IRS already has about you (like your W2 and 1099 income information) into a software program of your choice.
- It creates a return-free option for those with simple tax situations, where the IRS would send qualified people pre-filled tax forms explaining how much you owe or how much you’ll be refunded, which taxpayers could then review, sign and file.
Dozens of the country’s top law professors and economists have already supported this new bill, calling it “a much-needed improvement to our current system.” Secretary Hillary Clinton also supports it, saying: “This important piece of legislation will help us build a better, fairer tax system.” Will you join them?
Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer – a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee – told an American Bankers Association conference yesterday that I’m the “Darth Vader of the financial services world.”
My first thought was: Really? I’ve always seen myself more as a Princess Leia-type (a senator and Resistance general who, unlike the guys, is never even remotely tempted by the dark side). Clearly the Force is not strong with Congressman Luetkemeyer (maybe he’s a Trekkie).
But just before the whole room broke into applause for calling me a Sith Lord, he told the very same room of bankers:
Why would he go out of his way to say something so sexist and offensive? Is he hostile to all women? Clueless? Afraid? And then I had a second thought: This is all about money.
Congressman Luetkemeyer was on a panel about the “changing political landscape” in a room full of Wall Street bankers – powerful people who have been working for years to roll back financial reform. Trying to land the best zinger with my name is just one more way to earn chits and try to cash in big time with that audience.
Luetkemeyer is a Wall Street yes-man, and the financial industry has rewarded him handsomely for his reliability. Since first running for Congress in 2008, he's received nearly a million dollars from the big banks, hedge funds and credit card companies – and he's taken $50,000 specifically from the American Bankers Association.
Luetkemeyer probably thinks that he’ll make big bucks from his Wall Street friends off of his sexist remarks. So how about if we push back in the way the Congressman and his Wall Street buddies understand: It’s a big goal – but can we match the $50,000 that the American Bankers Association has given Blaine Luetkemeyer? Please chip in whatever you can afford right now.
Let me be clear: No amount of offensive remarks will stop me from standing up to House Republicans who are bought and paid for by the big banks. And no amount of name-calling will keep me from fighting for Wall Street reform, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and for real accountability when the big banks break the law.
They can call me Darth Vader or Voldemort or the Wicked Witch of Massachusetts for all I care – but I won’t be neutered. I won’t be muzzled. And I won’t stop fighting to level the playing field for working families.
Let’s send the big banks and their buddies in Congress a message: They can try to roll back financial reform and they can have a few laughs about the woman they want to neuter, but we’re ready to fight back anytime anywhere. Help us match Rep. Luetkemeyer’s big bank contributions right now.
Chief Judge Merrick Garland has served our country for decades – as a federal prosecutor, a senior official at the Department of Justice, and a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
He’s won praise from Democratic and Republican Senators, liberals and conservatives. Even the Bush-appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, has said: “Any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area.”
President Obama has done his job – sending a Supreme Court nominee to the United States Senate. Now it’s time for the Senate to do its job.
Sign our petition now to tell the Senate Republicans to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland fair consideration and an up-or-down vote.
I look forward to meeting with Chief Judge Garland, reviewing his record closely, coming to a decision on his nomination, and then voting.
After hearing from people like you all across the country, I hope that all Senators will show that they respect the President, the Constitution, and Chief Judge Garland enough to do the same.
Only a few hours after Justice Antonin Scalia suddenly died this past weekend, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that the vacancy on the Supreme Court shouldn’t be filled until the next President is sworn in next January.
Senator McConnell said the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. He’s right – and, in fact, they did – when President Barack Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can't find a clause that says "...except when there's a year left in the term of a Democratic President.”
Join me in telling Mitch McConnell: The Republican Senate must do its job and commit to giving President Obama's Supreme Court nominee timely consideration and an up-or-down vote. Sign the petition right now.
President Obama is still the President of the United States. If some Senators don’t like the person that President Obama nominates, they can make their case to the American people and vote no. But it would be arrogant and irresponsible for Senate Republicans to preemptively paralyze the nomination process laid out by our Constitution – before President Obama even announces a nominee – simply because they don’t like the guy who was elected to do the nominating.
Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself. It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that – empty talk.
I’m doing everything I can to speak out against the Republicans’ unbelievable scheme – but I can’t do it alone. Join me in telling the Senate Republicans to honor the Constitution they swore to uphold and commit to giving President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee timely consideration and an up-or-down vote.