What The Fuck, America?


As Emily Singer wrote for Mic, here's what Congress was doing while you were watching Comey testify. I'm not one to claim that Trump's administration, or the GOP in general, is trying to distract the American people with nonsense while they do the real work of dismantling the country for profit; I believe all of it is part of the process of selling the U.S. off for parts and we need to pay attention to all of it. Comey's testimony isn't unimportant but it is parallel to some unparalleled bullshit occurring in Congress.

The House, for example, passed the Financial CHOICE Act. I heartily recommend you visit the Financial Services Committee website to see how our goverment internet presence does not consist entirely of dry, utilitarian sites, but can do fancy logos and animations like the best of the Hollywood studios. Okay, maybe not the best, but it sure doesn't look like what you'd expect from anything as boring as the Financial Services Committee. MAIN STREET IS IN THE LOGO! WHOO-HOO! And, yes, as is de rigueur in these benighted times, the CHOICE Act is an acronym: Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs. I don't know what galley slave came up with that but they deserve a raise, perhaps a double helping of gruel next chow time.

But is it an Orwellian acronym? Of course it is! The CHOICE Act isn't about giving any of you peons a choice in anything. It's about repealing Dodd-Frank. Now, Dodd-Frank is definitely one of those late-period Democratic Frankenstain [sic] laws—sixty-five million pages of abstruse technical nonsense designed to be impenetrable to everyone, offend as few vested interests as possible, and nibble at the edges of whatever the serious problem might have been. It's by no means perfect. But it had some good points, all of which the CHOICE Act is intended to kill.

First, CHOICE gets rid of the pesky Volcker Rule, which prevents banks "with government-guaranteed deposits from engaging in 'proprietary trading,' basically speculating with depositors' money." (Says Paul Krugman.) The idea is pretty simple: If the government is called upon to guarantee bank deposits, the bank shouldn't take those deposits to the roulette wheel and put them all on 00, which they might do, since they can't possibly lose below what the government insures. In other words, the Volcker Rule says banks can't take out fire insurance and then burn down the house, so naturally it's a burdensome regulation and it has to go.

Second, the CHOICE Act basically wipes out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which wasn't much of a bulwark against financial corporate malfeasance, but it was something. Which by Republican logic means it's bad!

And then the CHOICE Act also kills the Obama-era expansion of the fiduciary rule, which sounds fancy but basically means that the person advising you on where to invest your retirement savings must have your best interests in mind, not, say, the bank's, or their own. I guess it won't matter since none of us are going to have retirement savings anyway. Once the big banks crash the world's economy again we're all going to be banging rocks together in the irradiated wasteland, so who needs fiduciary rules?

As if all of this isn't enough, the Senate is on their way to passing their version of the AHCA, entirely in secret, of course, and they don't give a shit who notices.

November 2016
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