Join Public Citizen on the campus of George Washington University on Tuesday, May 4, for a free preview screening of Casino Jack and the United States of Money.
This new documentary from Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) tells the story of notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff and reveals just how profoundly money can corrupt lawmakers in Washington.
Watch the trailer and RSVP to reserve your seat at www.citizen.org/CasinoJack.
WHAT: Free screening of the new documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. Discussion begins at 9 p.m.
WHERE: George Washington University, Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St. NW, Washington, D.C.)
Following the screening, Public Citizen’s Angela Canterbury will join a panel for conversation about the corrupting influence of money in politics and the solutions. If you can’t attend the screening, you can still participate in the discussion online at www.citizen.org/CasinoJack at 9 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, May 4.
Thousands of citizens took to the streets yesterday in New York City’s financial district to protest Wall Street’s role in wrecking our economy. Some of the Wall Street banker types weren’t exactly appreciative of the protest. Michael Gould-Wartofsky has a wrap up in the Huffington Post:
One corporate bond trader, Brendan Plunkett, 46, of Essex Falls, NJ, was quoted by Bloomberg BusinessWeek as saying, “If they care so much about the country, they should go to work and be productive and stop with the protests.”
And more at Newsweek’s blog:
The rally comes as populist anger against the banks seethes, stoked by charges of fraud levied against Goldman Sachs by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The organizers are billing it as the biggest anti-bank demonstration since some 3,000 people gathered in Chicago in October to protest at the American Bankers Association convention.
More photos after the jump.
Among the amendments that will be introduced to strengthen the Senate financial reform bill is one by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that would take aim at “proprietary trading” — the practice of banks using their own money, as opposed to their customers’, to try to profit off of the various trading markets.
The Merkley-Levin amendment would regulate some of the risk-taking and create conflict-of-interest rules to prevent banks from doing what Goldman Sachs is accused of doing — marketing bad investments to customers while raking in huge profits by betting against those very investments.
At a telephone news conference Thursday, Sen. Merkley explained that his amendment is about bringing integrity back to the financial markets. From Mark Trumball’s story in the Christian Science Monitor:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon, a co-sponsor of the amendment, told a press briefing Thursday that he and Levin are starting to enlist support across party lines, and that some Republicans share his concerns about proprietary trading.
“This is not a liberal or conservative issue,” Mr. Merkley said. “The integrity of the Wall Street system of allocating capital is a pro-business position.”
Merkley was joined on the call by Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a financial blogger, economist Jane D’Arista with the Political Economy Research Institute.
Public Citizen has been concerned about the heart dangers caused by the diebetes drug Avandia for a decade. But to add insult to injury, the makers of the drug are also now involved in an international unethical study involving it. If that weren’t bad enough, this study was ordered by the FDA. What?! Something isn’t right here.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, testified on the Hill yesterday in a House appropriations subcommittee hearing on Avandia. He presented new data since we last urged the FDA in 2008 to remove Avandia from the market.
GlaxoSmithKline, Avandia’s manufacturer, pressed forward with the FDA-requested study, drawing a pool of 16,000 subjects from 14 countries. It pits the diabetes drug against its competitor, Actos, even though some FDA officials have called the trial “exploitive of patients.”
“Thousands of high-risk patients with diabetes are being needlessly exposed to a drug with an unfavorable safety profile and no clinical advantage,” Wolfe told the lawmakers.
But FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg defended the study, as reported by the AP and picked up by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Hopefully it won’t take until the end of the study in 2015 for someone to step in and protect these patients, who are suffering from type 2 diabetes without knowing that their so-called treatment could be causing them further harm.
Now that the Kabuki dance is finally over and the financial reform bill is moving to the Senate floor, attention can be turned to the real issue: Will the new rules rein in Wall Street? The key issue is not whether the financial regulatory bill is going to pass but whether it will be strengthened.
The Senate banking committee bill contains a wide range of important reforms that should be enacted quickly, but the bill also must be strengthened considerably to establish a framework to prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis.
Here are five priorities as the debate goes forward: