No blank check for Wall Street: It’s not over

originally posted on Pam’s House Blend

no blank check for Wall Street logoDebbie Stone: Do you think it’s over?
Mike Tobacco: Yeah, sure.– the final lines from Killer Klowns from Outer Space, right before it becomes clear that no, it’s not over

Ah well.  After Monday’s brief shining moment of resistance from the House, the politics of business as usual asserted themselves.  With the aid of “sweeteners” (aka bribes) to bring holdouts on board, relentless arm-twisting from both parties leadership, and the sense even among skeptics that something needs to be done today, the bailout bill passed the House today.

Will the bailout bill as currently constructed work to stop the crisis? Most economists, even a lot of those like Roubini and Krugman who support the bill’s passage under the “better than nothing” theory, are skeptical — and so am I. I guess we’ll know in a few months, if not sooner. Which means that we should expect some major restructuring of the bill as things move forward.

And if as expected much of the money flows directly to the pockets of major shareholders and Wall Street executives, will Congress act to restrict profiteering? Lehman’s already handed out $2.5 billion in bonuses, and according to the Treasury’s reassuring conference call with financial institutions, the “restrictions” on executive compensation will be easy to evade. Again, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.

One way or another, the fight for Wall Street accountability is far from over.

What next for No blank check for Wall Street? There are a few important things to do at this point:

  1. A “lessons learned” discussion. What worked well? What could have gone better? What should we be thinking about now to prepare for the next time a battle flares up on short notice? Please share your perspectives in replies here, on Facebook, and on the wiki.
  2. Let members of Congress know that we’re holding them responsible for their vote. The easiest way to do this is on our thank/spank threads on Facebook here and here. If you’d like to be even more direct, let them know directly on their Facebook pages.
  3. Try to keep the media attention on the intense public opposition to a blank check for Wall Street. Our main short-term focus here will be our collaboration with MixedInk on our October 13 open letter to the presidential candidates. We did a dry run this week with a last-minute open letter to Congress, and will start work on the one to the candidates next week — stay tuned!

The important point here is to let politicians know we’re not going away.

There are almost 1000 of us who are part of No blank check for Wall Street — and there are a lot of the other grassroots groups much larger than us.* We’ll get steadily stronger, and better at working together, as time passes. As Micah Sifry, David Sirota, and Zephyr Teachout describe, momentum is with us — not just the Wall Street accountability movement, but with decentralized, self-organizing, multi-partisan “outsider” network movements in general.**

On a more personal level: thanks to everybody who’s gotten involved with No blank check for Wall Street or any of the other campaigns against this bailout bill. I really appreciate the work you’ve all done and the support you’ve given. I’d especially like to acknowledge Pam (thanks for hosting!), Julien, John, Adriel, Jillian, Vanessa, Andrea, Thomas, Vicki, Forest Native, Lily, Harry, joyblues, Eve, Francis, Maegan, and The Crow. (There were a lot of others who stepped forward, so apologies to anybody I’ve overlooked.) Please stay in touch and — when you have time — continue to be involved. Thanks once again!

And remember: it’s not over.


* The Just Say No to the Paulson Bailout Facebook group is over 3600 people … Bernie Sanders’ petition had 48,000 signatures by Wednesday; I’m not sure how many signatures, the National Taxpayers Union, Campaign for American Progress, CREDO Action, etc., but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the totals are a lot more. Moira Herbst’s Bailout Outrage Races Across the Web in Business Week from September 25 last week is an excellent early roundup — go MSM!

** speaking of which: keep an eye on the new Facebook group We demand that facebook fire Alberto Gonzales’ right-hand man, Ted Ullyot … it had about 175 members when I joined this morning. Activism campaigns have led to Facebook changing policies at least twice, once with their privacy-invasive Beacon and once with the million-person petition to ban the inviting of friends to applications. Combine that energy with the anti-torture, anti-Bush Administration energy of the recent political activism movements, and the results could be interesting.

No blank check for Wall Street is a group of people demanding accountability for Wall Street for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. We welcome those who oppose a bailout as well as those support a bailout with accountability. Please see our website for more. Our Facebook page and #bailout on twitter are the best ways to follow events. For earlier posts in this series, please see Jon Pincus’ page on Pam’s House Blend. Help get the word out!