Stopping the Financial CHOICE Act

This week, the US House of Representatives intends a vote on the Financial CHOICE Act (hereinafter: the GOP’s Choice Act), which is intended to significantly overhaul the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank).  This is a bill that needs to be stopped, as it reforms Dodd-Frank (which isn’t perfect and needs some corrections) the wrong way, and in a manner that will hurt consumers and protect damaging lending practices.  The GOP is hoping to fly this under the radar with little constituency attention, as former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify this week, and Dodd-Frank is seen as very complex and intimidating.  Don’t be fooled!  It’s time to light up the phone lines of our federal legislators to prevent Dodd-Frank from being reformed in the manner set by the GOP’s Choice Act.
Let’s start by going through a few basics.
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT THINGS THAT DODD-FRANK DOES?
Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010, after the collapse of the financial market.  Dodd-Frank streamlines the regulatory oversight process, which allows the US Federal Government better supervision, especially for institutions that create a systemic risk.  Dodd-Frank also ends taxpayer bailouts of financial institutions, regulates (and in some cases, ends) certain risky maneuvers by financial institutions which lead to the need for bailouts, reigns in certain issues of governance within financial institutions and compensation, and helps provide a better early warning system of economic trouble.
To list every important item that Dodd-Frank does would be exceedingly long for this post.  Here are just a few of the major ways that Dodd-Frank seeks to achieve the above goals:
– Requires certain financial companies to compose a “living will” in the event of failure.
– Creates 2 sub-agencies within the Treasury Department specifically charged with identifying and responding to threats of financial stability and promotion of market discipline, and to research and collect data to back up these tasks (the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Office of Financial Research).
– Expands the power of liquidation by the FDIC and the SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) to certain non-bank financial institution, which, in the event of failure by those companies, would ensure the removal of management responsible for that failure.
– Extends the Investment Advisor Act of 1940 to regulate private equity managers and hedge fund managers.  It should be noted that these 2 funds are empowered to make riskier transactions than most financial institutions.
– Creates the famed “Volcker Rule”, which bars banking entities from having more than 3% of its assets in a hedge fund or private equity fund, and bars banks from engaging in any transactions in with that private equity or hedge fund to which it is invested without then disclosing the transaction to a regulator.
– Provides for certain retention of credit risk by securitizers, to keep securitizers on the hook in the event of a pass off of a bad unqualified loan to an investor or servicer.
Listed last here but is certainly not least: Dodd-Frank provides for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which acts independent from the Federal Reserve, provides supervision and enforcement of fair lending and banking standards, and provides for consumer education.
WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF DODD-FRANK THAT ACTUALLY NEED IMPROVEMENT?
There is a lot of noise on this one, as if you ask different legislators or regulators, you will receive different answers.  Let’s go to what is likely the most credible source for this, Representative Barney Frank (one of the Dodd-Frank’s namesakes and the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee at the time of Dodd-Frank’s passage).  Frank noted to NPR in a story run Friday June 2, 2017, that Dodd-Frank is too restrictive to community banks and has too low of a threshold for a label of “Too Big to Fail” (a label that subjects a bank to further stringent regulations).
Representative Frank is right on both counts.  Compliance costs with a lot of the Dodd-Frank regulations are simply too high for community banks to meet, which has an unintended backlash of risking a greater monopoly from the larger banks, as many community banks cannot afford to meet several of the regulations.  It is this writer’s opinion that an exemption for community banks should be created for many of the requirements of Dodd-Frank (not including the underwriting standards and credit-risk retainment).  Too low of a “Too Big To Fail” standard creates a similar problem, as compliance costs increase, some of the institutions on the low end of the threshold may not be able to afford being of that size, and have to reduce or fail, which further decreases competition among financial institutions.
The above is not intended to downplay the absolute importance of financial institutions investing in compliance and taking the time to create a culture of compliance within the executives and rank and file.  This investment can stop illegality before it starts, prevents costly fines to the institution, prevent a situation that leads to protracted litigation, and maintains trust between consumers and financial institutions.
WHAT DOES THE GOP’S CHOICE ACT DO?
Let’s start with the first 2 things: yes, it will reduce regulation to community banks, and significantly rolls back the “too big to fail” guideline.  This will reduce compliance costs.  However, this is not all that it does.  Some of the items that get changed are:
– Eliminates the Office of Financial Research;
– If a bank maintains a leverage ratio of 10%, it does not have to maintain a living will;
– Eliminates the orderly liquidation authority of regulators in case of a failure, the power that included the removal of management responsible for the failure;
– Repeals the Volcker Rule;
– Certain financial institutions can make loans without regard to the customer’s ability to repay, significantly reducing  protections against predatory lenders;
– Rolls back rulemaking and enforcement authority of the Federal Government to payday lenders and vehicle title lenders;
– Changes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (in addition to changing the name to the Consumer Law Enforcement Agency) and several other financial agencies into an agency with significantly reduced independence, by subjecting any rulemaking authority the agency may have to Congressional approval (despite the rule also already needing to be submitted for notice and public comment under our Constitutional concepts of procedural due process).
Any help to consumers and promotion of the health of the financial industry that could be achieved with the regulatory rollbacks to community banks and scaling back the “too big to fail” designation is more than undone with the above noted changes, which erode accountability within the financial industry.  Opposing the GOP’s Choice Act is not an act of “throwing away the good hoping for something perfect.”  Opposing the GOP’s Choice Act is standing against a bad bill.
Dodd-Frank is an imperfect, but decent banking reform package.  It can be made perfect if we fight for it.  That fight starts with calling Congressman Paulsen and telling him to oppose the GOP’s Choice Act.
Sincerely,
Michael Vogel

SD34 Central Committee is Coming to Rogers June 6!

2 big things to remember for the meeting:
– Marchers needed for Rogers parade June 24!

– SD34 Picnic on August 20 at Elm Creek Park Reserve!

The June meeting of DFL Senate District 34 will be held at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6 at:

The Rogers Community Room
21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers

Agenda items include a visit from Erin Murphy’s campaign, provisional endorsement of 2018 legislative candidate Kristin Banner and 2020 candidate Bonnie Westlin, election of State Central Committee delegates and alternates, and parade plans.

All Democrats are welcome; members of the executive committee, directors, precinct chairs and state central committee members may vote.

We are looking for marchers for the Rogers parade on June 24. Please contact us at chair@sd34dfl.org if you are available. The parade starts at 12:00 noon with line-up beforehand.

Save the date! SD34 will host a family picnic at 1:00 p.m. on August 20th at Elm Creek Park Reserve. More details later.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU AT THE MEETING IN ROGERS ON JUNE 6th

SD34 Central Committee Meeting on May 2nd, at 7pm, at the Maple Grove Government Center

The SD34 Central Committee makes decisions for the District between conventions.  The Executive Committee, Precinct Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and members of the Congressional District 3 and State Central Committee who live in SD34 make up the State Central Committee.  All Democrats are welcome to attend meetings.

This month we will be discussing: Process for provisional endorsements and letters of support; revision of meeting schedule to include Dayton, Osseo, and Rogers; date, place, and budget for summer picnic; candidate recruitment; discussion of banner/business cards; and the possibility of an online issue survey.

Please contact us if you have other items for the agenda.

The meeting will be at 7pm in the Maple Grove Government Center Lower Level EOC Room (12800 Arbor Lakes Parkway N).

We hope to see you there!

Supporting Representative Hortman

During an important debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Monday, April 3, on a controversial bill on whether punishments for protesters should increase for blocking roads and airports, several Representatives were giving passionate speeches on their position, including several Representatives who are racial minorities.  The main problem, several of their colleagues, also elected Representatives, didn’t listen to those speeches.  Representative Melissa Hortman (also the DFL Minority Leader in the MN House) called out those Representatives in a floor speech saying: “I hate to break up the 100% white male card game in the retiring room, but I think this is an important debate.”
She was asked to apologize by Representative Bob Dettmer (R), who stated that he was offended, as he is a white male.  An apology was also demanded of Hortman by Majority Leader Representative Joyce Peppin (R).  Hortman declined saying that she is “really tired of watching women in particular being ignored.  So I’m not sorry.”  Representative Greg Davids (R) called on her to resign and claimed, in an interview, that it created a “hostile work environment.”  Later that week, in a process overseen by Peppin through her position as majority leader, a formal protest was filed for the legislative record against Hortman.
The work environment analogy fails to justify the on-the-record protest.  Let’s start first with the attempts to paint Hortman’s calling out of the card game as discriminatory.  This characterization doesn’t take into account the context of the comments themselves, which is relevant to a discrimination claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act (neither cause of action is being contemplated here, but these are two examples we can use as an analogy).  The GOP has a history of using legislation and legislative rules to silence its opponents, be they activist organizations advocating for the rights of minorities or their own colleagues in the legislature.  A bill was being debated seeking to increase punishments for certain protesters amidst a backdrop of recent protest for rights of racial minorities.  While Representatives of a racial minority gave floor speeches discussing that bill, a group of white representatives are playing cards in the retiring room.  In this context, Hortman’s comments are attempting to stop ongoing racial inequity, rather than creating it.  To interpret the MHRA, Title VII, or any other law or rule in a manner to make Hortman’s comments a “hostile work environment” would stifle frank discussions about diversity in the workplace, and hurt important diversity training.
Furthermore, the work environment analogy fails, because if anyone was caught playing cards in a meeting, when their colleague was giving a presentation, they would be fired.
What’s even more insidious about the card game and the on-the-record protest is, that while many Minnesotans may not like the protest tactics at issue in the bill, most Minnesotans at least understand that the tactics are being used because many feel that lawmakers don’t listen to the voices of minorities.  The card game and on-the-record protest only proved that narrative to be correct. This fact clearly hasn’t sunk in to Peppin, Davids, and Dettmer, and shows they are out of touch with Minnesotans.
No protest, or any repercussive action has been filed against any of the representatives in the card game.  It should be noted that one of the representatives is a member of the DFL, and I sincerely hope he feels ashamed.
To the members of the GOP who were offended by Representative Hortman’s comments: don’t ever call us “snowflakes” again!
An opportunity to support Representative Hortmann on Tuesday April 18 can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/320149501737325/?ti=cl
Sincerely,
Michael Vogel, J.D.

Response to attack ad against millenial Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff (Post by Mike Vogel)

A poll was recently released in the Georgia 6th Congressional District, putting Democrat Jon Ossoff up against his nearest Republican rivals, which would guarantee him a spot in the runoff if his numbers hold.  This was the district that was represented in US Congress by Tom Price, a Republican who is now in charge of HHS.  The district is in the suburbs near Atlanta, and has been traditionally Republican, except that Donald Trump only carried the district by 1 point over Clinton in the presidential race, and a Democrat is now in the lead, at least for the first round.  Even more impressive when you consider Ossoff is 30 years old, and now endorsed by Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis.  Ossoff represents the GOP’s greatest fear…politically active millennials.

Naturally, the GOP would react with an attack ad.  This attack ad goes after the fact that in college that Mr. Ossoff used to film comedy skits in cosplay and was in Georgetown’s Glee Club writing comedy songs, and claims he’s not capable of being serious.  The ad argues that there was some crossover time between some of these activities and the 5 year work he did as a foreign policy staffer under Congressman Hank Johnson.  The ad does not mention his education at Georgetown or the London School of Economics, or his 2016 documentary to BBC exposing the atrocities of ISIS.  The ad argues he is merely playing dress up.  The attack ad smacks of the assumption that a millennial who may like comedy, cosplay and glee club cannot be serious.

I am 31 years old.  I do stand-up comedy.  I was president of the Butler University Men’s Glee Club.  I’m a father of two, and I write parody songs about changing diapers and potty training. I look excellent dressed up as the Tenth Doctor of Doctor Who at comic book conventions. I’m also an attorney licensed in Minnesota since 2010.  As an attorney, I’ve been a Social Security Disability Advocate, I’ve done document review in connection with lawsuits and government investigations, and am now a Compliance Attorney.  Finally, I am the Vice Chair of DFL’s Senate District 34.  The GOP would probably like me to think I should apologize for the fact that I cosplay, do comedy, write parody songs, and sang in a glee club.  To the GOP, I say: I’m very serious, and you don’t scare me!

To other millennials, the GOP just noted that they think you are not welcome in politics.  The GOP, in their attack ad has just indicated that they don’t think millennials can be serious.  Meanwhile, Ossoff has received multiple key Democratic endorsements, and has raised in excess $3 million.  This isn’t just limited to the Georgia 6th, as the Democrats have pushed a very large campaign to get millennials interest in the campaign bench (see e.g. “Run for Something”).  This entire race dynamic has shown that the Democrats want to embrace millennials, and the Republicans want us to go away.

Us millennials are aren’t going anywhere, and the new generation of capable representatives and leaders are right before us.  The Democrats aren’t running from this.  The Republicans are running scared.

Caucus Training Sessions

Here are a list of Caucus Training Sessions that CD 3 is putting on. If you want more information on what the Caucuses are and what you should expect feel free to attend.

  • Jan 29th, 3-5 PM, Eden Prairie Community Center – Come to Caucus – hosted by SD48 (Babara Khan)
  • Feb 3rd Come to Caucus – Oxboro Library, Bloomington – hosted by SD50 (Ben Sunderlin)
  • Feb 13th Come to Caucus – Penn Lake Library, Bloomington – hosted by SD50 (Ben Sunderlin)
  • Feb 20th Come to Caucus – Penn Lake Library, Bloomington – hosted by SD50 (Ben Sunderlin)
  • Feb 20th, SPANISH/En Español – Vengan a la Caucus – Augsburg Park Library, Richfield – hosted by SD50 (Ben Sunderlin/Paula Cole)

SD34 Convention – Saturday March 15th

The 2014 SD34 DFL Convention will be held on Saturday March 15th at Fernbrook Elementary School in Maple Grove.

Saturday March 15th
Registration opens at 8:00am, Convention convenes at 9:30am

Fernbrook Elementary School
9661 Fernbrook Ln N
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Convention Documents:
Proposed Convention Agenda
Proposed Convention Rules
Current SD34 DFL Constitution (There are no changes proposed)

For reference, the State DFL Party Official Call and Constitution is available here.

Any questions can be directed to Amy Van Schepen at chair@sd34dfl.org

Precinct Caucuses – Tuesday February 4th

Precinct caucuses are scheduled for Tuesday February 4th, 2014.

Caucuses for Senate District 34 (Dayton, Maple Grove, Osseo, and Rogers) will be held at Maple Grove High School starting at 7pm (Doors open at 6:30pm).

Maple Grove High School
9800 Fernbrook Lane N
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Click here for map

To learn more about precinct caucuses, click here to view introductory videos and to find what precinct you live in.

If you are unable to attend on caucus night, you can still participate by submitting a letter of nomination (PDF).

April 23rd – Three Rivers Progressive Forum

Three Rivers Progressives Forum

Maple Grove, Osseo, Dayton, and Rogers

__________________________

Stay on top of the issues.

Have fun with people who share your views and interests.

Talk with researchers, candidates, issue experts, elected officials.

Get active in campaigns, community projects, issues, and the DFL.

__________________________

Tuesday, April 23      6 p.m. Dinner       7 p.m. Program

Dehn’s Country Manor, 11291 Fernbrook Lane N, Maple Grove  

darby_nelsonDarby Nelson – Author of the book, For the Love of Lakes

The State of our Lakes, especially in the NW Metro

 

 

Darby Nelson has a PhD in aquatic ecology.  He taught at Anoka Ramsey Community College, and served 3 terms as a MN State legislator.

 

Nelson has received many awards including the Minnesota Post-Secondary Science Teacher of the Year; Faculty Excellence Award; Golden Chalk Award from students; as well as awards from the Sierra Club, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Izaak Walton League.  He has served on The Nature Conservancy Board and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and is now on the boards of Conservation Minnesota and the Freshwater Society.  

 

For Love of Lakes is Darby Nelson’s first book.  He will donate royalties from the book to Conservation Minnesota. Darby will tell us the story of the journey he undertook to write For Love of Lakes, a journeywhich started at Dayton’s Diamond Lake.

RSVP: Please contact John Madrodt to let him know you’re coming so he can give Dehn’s the count and also for any questions you have: (763) 657-7701, johnmanrodt@gmail.com