No member of the House has been a harsher critic of the abuses of big banks and Wall Street that Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur.
No member of the House has been more on-target in his condemnations and her calls for reform.
During the bank bailout fight of 2008, Kaptur became a national folk-hero as millions of Americans clicked on YouTube videos of her ripping the bankers who had come to Congress looking for handouts. "The crimes of Wall Street will make Watergate look like penny ante theives," she declared.
In particular, Kaptur condemned the bailout for failing to protect families facing foreclosure.
The congresswoman urged homeowners who were threatened with foreclosure to refuse to leave their homes until the banks could "produce the note" — something they could not do. "Possession is nine-tenths of the law," Kaptur told constituents. "Therefore, stay in your property. Get proper legal representation … If Wall Street cannot produce the deed nor the mortgage audit trail … you should stay in your home. It is your castle. It’s more than a piece of property."
The Kaptur appeared in Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story.
Referring to the bailout, Moore asked: "Do you think it’s too harsh to call what has happened here a coup d”tat? A financial coup d’tat?"
Kaptur replied: "I think that’s what’s happened — a financial coup d’tat."
In the House, Kaptur introduced real reform legislation, the Return to Product Banking Act, which, among other things, would "(amend) the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) to prohibit an insured depository institution from being an affiliate of any broker or dealer, investment adviser, investment company, or any other person or entity engaged principally in the issue, flotation, underwriting, public sale, or distribution of stocks, bonds, debentures, notes, or other securities."
So Kaptur is serious, really serious, about taking on the big banks and reforming how Wall Street "does business."
So how did Kaptur vote on the final version of the optimistically-named "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on 2009"?
The bill passed the House Wednesday on a 237-192 vote, with most Democrats backingthe measure that President Obama and House and Senate leaders are pitching as a major reform measure and most Republicans opposing it.
But Kaptur cast a "no" vote.
A loud and unapologetic "No!"
Why did the most ardent reformer in the House reject what she dismissed as a "so-called bill"?
Kaptur told the House that the measure to "support the very same big banks (that caused the crisis) and not the American people and the communities in which we live, in the Main Street that all of us are sworn to represent."
In particular, she complained: “The bill allows financial power to create wealth, the bankers’ awesome power, to be closely held in a few Wall Street and Charlotte- based megabanks. The bill does not address the business model of credit rating agencies or how interwoven these nongovernmental agencies are with the institutions they rate. The bill does not require that all derivatives be traded through transparent exchanges. The bill does not adequately support both agencies dedicated to finding and fighting fraud in our financial system, and it really doesn’t do anything to address the continuing mortgage foreclosure hemorrhage, the crisis going on across our country."
In other words, this in not reform.
And unlike most members of the House — Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives — Marcy Kaptur is serious about reform.