The Honorable Al Franken
United Sates Senate
320 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5641

April 30, 2010

Dear Senator Franken:

Here on the prairie, legal notices of home foreclosures still make up the largest section of the local newspaper. Unemployment has more than doubled since 2007, the official jobless rate is something like 12-13% and rising. Meanwhile your great state is making devastating reductions in funding for local governments, health and human services, and education. Area school boards are being forced to slash millions of dollars from education budgets by eliminating valuable programs and laying off great teachers.

Now we are tough enough, as you know. But Senator, please: we are not stupid. Increasingly we are inclined to regard the bailout of September 2008, the one engineered by Hank Paulson and his bankster cronies, as an act of financial terrorism. Even so, Bill Black’s testimony to Congress refreshed and heartened us. Now, nobody I know wants to hear anymore about fake improvements to our rotten financial system. Senator, we absolutely do NOT want to hear a bill full of industry-sponsored loopholes and dodges ballyhooed as "historic reform."

Back in 1999, Paul Wellstone was one of only eight senators to vote against the shameful Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, miscalled "Financial Services Modernization." Wellstone eloquently protested the gutting of the Glass-Steagall Act. Wellstone rightly saw that Gramm-Leach-Bliley (S. 900)

goes in the direction of giving more power to the privileged few and giving ordinary citizens less say in the economic decisions that affect their lives. S. 900 is terrible for consumers, it is bad for low-income families, it is bad for rural communities, it creates potentially enormous risks for the economy, and it exposes taxpayers–please remember the S&L debacle–to tremendous liability. I believe S. 900 is bad legislation that as a nation we will soon regret.

Senator Franken, hopefully, you will get the chance to stand up like Paul Wellstone did by voting YES to reinstate Glass-Steagall, as your distinguished colleagues Maria Cantwell and John McCain have proposed.

And while you’re at it, please make finance reform real reform by supporting all of the measures that Zach Carter enumerates in How to Fix the Wall Street Reform Bill:

1. Vote YES for the Safe Banking Act of 2010, the Brown-Kaufman amendment to Break Up the Banks. Here on the prairie, this looks like our best hope for ending Too Big To Fail, as Karl Denninger says.

2. Vote YES on anything like a Jack Reed amendment for a strong Consumer Financial Protection agency independent of the Federal Reserve.

3. Vote YES to reinstate Glass-Steagall.

4. Vote YES to regulate Derivatives and get commercial banks out of the derivatives casino.

5. Vote YES on the Bernie Sanders amendment to Audit the Fed. As Senator Sanders your colleague points out:

since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008 the Federal Reserve helped prop up some of the world’s largest financial institutions with more than $2 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and guarantees. What is not known are the names of the banks that took the hidden taxpayer subsidies, the amount of money each received nor the loan terms. … This money does not belong to the Federal Reserve. It belongs to the American people, and the American people have a right to know where their taxpayer dollars are going.

And finally. If the fix is in, and none of these proposals for real change has any real chance of becoming law, please don’t bother trying to sell us the bogus benefits of fake reform. If you do, a lot of us who voted for you will be extra motivated to work hard for the election of Anybody Else next time around–including even lazy constituents like

Yours truly,
Scott Norsworthy
Isanti, MN

Scott Norsworthy

Scott Norsworthy

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