Whenever a really big problem in Washington, D.C. needs solving, the smartest bet is to stick to that old Watergate adage: follow the money. Such is also the case with the issues of gun manufacturers lobbying Congress to block common sense gun law reform, the private prison industry’s profiting off the incarceration of more than 22 percent of the American population, and funding for oil pipelines who make any legislation to combat climate change impossible.
If I was working in that Congress –I'm not, but if I was– I'd gather the numbers for how much these banks got in tax cuts & tax breaks to get a more reflecting view.
— Savas (@ihavetwitan) April 10, 2019
The freshman class of Democrats in the House, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is following that money in order to get results on the issues they’re most passionate about. Going after the CEOs of big banks in Congressional hearings in order to convince them to amend their ways or suffer reputational damage is the latest tactic, and Democrats are already seeing results.
‘Progressive freshmen like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) are joining with veteran lawmakers to try to shame the lenders into taking a stand on some of the country’s most divisive issues: climate change, gun violence and immigration.’
— Morgan Simon (@MorganSimon1) March 12, 2019
It is the reverse strategy that has since been used. Instead of taking donations from big banks for political campaigns and working with them on compromises in which the banks win far more than the American people do, politicians are beginning to flex their own muscles a bit and turn the tables of power onto the funders of the country’s worst plagues.
‘This is more than just a public relations nightmare for the banks. At stake is their standing with investors and customers, who have been willing to withdraw business from lenders over their positions on hot-button issues. The banks also face a potential backlash from politicians at all levels of government — including conservatives — who have taken punitive action when the companies take a stand they don’t like. In Louisiana, for example, officials banned Citigroup and Bank of America from a bond sale in response to restrictive gun policies.’
Watch @AOC hold up our report, "The Banks That Finance Private Prison Companies," as she asks Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, "Mr. Sloan, why was the bank involved in the caging of children?" https://t.co/YJk84WZ1GX
— In the Public Interest (@PubInterest) March 13, 2019
Like any other corporation, public sentiment can make or break them. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez took on J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Wednesday, who has already bowed to some pressure and began changing the bank’s policies of backing private prisons.
‘Under pressure from activists and now House Democrats, JPMorgan earlier this month announced it plans to cut ties to prison companies, and Wells Fargo said it is doing the same. That prompted Ocasio-Cortez to take a victory lap on Twitter: “Huge update: JP Morgan & Wells Fargo have announced that they will no longer fund private prisons,” she wrote on March 21. “How did this happen? Through organizing people & public pressure!”’
For the full exchange between Ocasio-Cortez and Dimon, see video below:
Featured image screenshot via YouTube