Business & Economy
Harkin: Financial Reform Needed to Hold Wall Street Accountable and Help Main Street PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 03 May 2010 07:34
April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke on the Senate floor today before the third scheduled procedural vote to bring financial reform legislation up for consideration.  The previous two attempts Monday and Tuesday failed due to Republican obstructionism.  Harkin’s full remarks follow. 

“Mr. President, yesterday in the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, we learned more about the reckless actions of traders and executives at Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs was hardly the only bad actor in bringing our financial system to the brink of collapse in 2008.  Traders and executives at many other financial institutions got fabulously wealthy by gaming the unregulated casinos on Wall Street.  They walked away with fortunes, even as millions of Americans lost their jobs, their savings, and/or their homes. 

“Yet, as we witnessed in yesterday’s hearing, Wall Street remains arrogant and unrepentant.  And it has the gall to believe that it should remain free to continue business as usual.  To that end, it has mobilized a legion of lobbyists – an estimated 1,500 of them . . . 15 lobbyists for every Senator – to try to kill or water down financial reform legislation. 

“It is deeply unfortunate that every one of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have joined with Wall Street in obstructing this legislation – every one of them is not just filibustering the bill, but even preventing it from coming to the floor for debate. 

“I say to my Republican colleagues:  Senator Dodd and Senator Lincoln have bent over backward to consult with Republicans and invite bipartisan cooperation.  Their good-faith efforts have produced solid, common-sense legislation.  Can it be improved?  Of course.  But we can only amend and improve this legislation if the Republican filibuster ends and the bill is brought to the floor.

“Mr. President, it is a bitter irony that, even as we spent a fortune in taxpayer dollars to rescue the global financial system, the self-appointed masters of the universe on Wall Street rewarded themselves with billions in bonuses and geared up to fight efforts by Congress to prevent a replay of the 2008 meltdown.

“Wall Street is all too used to living a different life – and playing by different rules – from Main Street.  And nowhere is this disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street more stark than in the area of compensation.  Over the last decades, compensation in the financial sector has skyrocketed, with some executives walking away with annual compensation of hundreds of millions of dollars, even as the inflation-adjusted incomes of ordinary working Americans have failed to rise. 

“Mr. President, I am dwelling on this matter of compensation because it points to a larger issue.  In my view, a big reason for the financial collapse of 2008 is that things got seriously out of balance and out of whack.  As Glass-Steagall was repealed, as special interests attacked the very idea of government regulation, and as the SEC and other watchdog agencies turned into permissive poodles, bad actors on Wall Street stepped into the void. 

“Pursuing fabulous riches, they drove our economy off a cliff.  And it is ordinary Americans, the ones who work hard and play by the rules, who have paid such a terrible price for Wall Street’s recklessness.

“And that is exactly why we need financial reform legislation.  As others have noted, financial crises should not be things that happen every five to seven, much like periodic floods.  Just as we can build dikes to prevent floods, we can take common-sense steps to prevent future financial meltdowns.

“This legislation will protect consumers in their everyday transactions involving everything from mortgages to credit cards to payday loans.  It will safeguard families whose life savings and pensions can be devastated when a financial system collapses.  And it will guard against future massive meltdowns in the financial system that almost always cause collateral damage to millions of innocent bystanders and to the broader economy.

“By all means, strong financial reform must include regulation of the derivatives market.  I am very pleased that the basis for this regulation is the provision passed out of the Agriculture Committee under the leadership of Chairman Lincoln.

“Derivatives contracts have been at the heart of Wall Street’s financial manipulation. From December 2000 to June 2008, the height of Wall Street’s boom, the face-value of over-the-counter derivatives grew from $95 billion to $683 trillion.

“Now, I have no objection to derivatives as financial instruments. Many manufacturing companies use these financial instruments legitimately to hedge their risks.  But, we also know that many parts of this market amount to nothing more than pure-and-simple gambling. So, despite derivatives’ usefulness in many circumstances, we also know that the current structure of the market is in dire need of fundamental reform.

“The derivatives legislation reported out of the Agriculture Committee, last week, is now a component of the larger reform bill that we hope will soon be before the Senate. This proposal would bring these transactions into the light of day by requiring that all transactions be reported to regulators in real-time. It would also bring the vast majorities of these contracts into clearinghouses and exchanges. These market mechanisms help to reduce the concentration of risk in the system and bolster public transparency.  This legislation also gets to the heart of the ‘too big to fail’ problem by prohibiting swaps entities from also being commercial banks. Commercial banks that are backed by the government should not be able to use that government backing to support their high-stakes gambling.  That only magnifies the level of risk in the banking system. It is unfair to taxpayers, and also to bank customers and community banks. 

“Mr. President, in addition to regulating derivatives, we also need a strong, truly independent financial consumer protection agency to guard against rip-offs and abuses in mortgages, credit cards, payday loans, and other financial products.

“We also need to slam the door on any future taxpayer bailouts of so-called 'too big to fail' financial institutions.  No more AIGs or Citigroups.  When companies make huge bets and lose, we need an orderly process for liquidating those companies.  Period.

“To further improve the bill, I am a cosponsor of legislation offered by Senator Cantwell that would re-create the Great Depression-era regulation that prohibited the mixing of commercial banks, investment banks, and insurance companies. I am also a cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act offered by Senators Brown and Kaufman that would limit the size of the largest institutions.

“In addition, I am supportive of legislation by Senators Merkley and Levin that blocks institutions that are insured by the FDIC from proprietary trading with their own funds.  We can’t have high-risk gambling with the government standing as the backstop if there are large losses.  

“Mr. President, America has been through financial collapses and deep economic downturns before. In charting the way forward, we can learn important lessons from the financial crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression.  FDR answered that crisis by implementing tough new regulations to stabilize the financial system, to rein in risk-taking and recklessness on Wall Street, and to make the economy work for ordinary Americans.  This led to decades of shared economic prosperity unprecedented in our nation’s history. 

“That needs to be our model as we shape today’s financial reform legislation.  Our aim should be a Wall Street that serves the interests of Main Street.  Our aim should be a financial system that makes possible a new era of economic stability and shared prosperity.”

 
i.network Returns for Second Year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kristin Glass   
Thursday, 29 April 2010 07:37

(QUAD CITIES) – The Network: Young Professionals of the Quad Cities, a program of the Illinois and Iowa QC Chambers of Commerce, will be hosting the i.network program in the Quad Cities for the second summer.

i.network is a program developed by young professionals for young professionals to showcase all the Quad Cities region has to offer beyond the four walls of the workplace. i.network targets young professional interns from all over the United States whom are interning in the Quad Cities during the summer months. The overall goal of the program is to retain young talent in the Quad Cities upon their graduation from college.

The i.network program has teamed up with the Illinois and Iowa QC Chambers and www.quadcitycareers.com to provide a newly enhanced summer program.  The program now includes information on how local companies can start an internship program, opportunities to recruit young talent from the Quad Cities and outside regions as well as affordable housing options for the interns during the summer.

For more information on the i.network program, starting an internship program, recruiting interns or housing options; visit www.quadcitycareers.com.

 

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Rivermont Collegiate Open House PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Tammi Burrell   
Thursday, 29 April 2010 07:20

Foreign language beginning in Kindergarten.  Highest availability of Advanced Placement classes in the state of Iowa.  100% graduate acceptance to four-year colleges and universities.  Extraordinary things happen at Rivermont Collegiate!  Explore our school during our open house this week!  On Thursday, April 29th from 6:00-8:00 p.m., families are invited to drop in for tours of campus, one-on-one discussion, and answers to their questions about Rivermont.  This casual event is designed to introduce local families to the Quad Cities’ only private, nonsectarian, independent college prep school.  Rivermont Collegiate, located in Bettendorf, provides students with a comprehensive education in a safe, family-like learning environment.

From PreSchool through twelfth grade, Rivermont students develop a joy for learning, lead peers in community involvement, and take intellectual and artistic risks.  Drop in to learn more about our philosophy, values, and programs!  Cindy Murray, Director of Admissions, will be on hand to answer questions.  The Rivermont campus is located directly off 18th street in Bettendorf behind K&K Hardware.  Visit us online at www.rivermontcollegiate.org!  This event is free and open to the public.

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate or Thursday’s Open House, contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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Braley Urges SEC and Department of Justice to Hold Goldman Sachs Accountable PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Caitlin Legacki   
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 08:05

Washington, DC – In light of recent revelations about Goldman Sachs’ actions leading up to the financial collapse of 2008, Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) signed on to two letters urging the Securities and Exchange Commission and Attorney General Eric Holder to hold Goldman Sachs accountable for its role in creating the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“For too long, reckless speculators on Wall Street gambled away the savings of America’s middle class families,” Braley said. “To ensure this never happens again, I’m joining my colleagues in asking the SEC and Attorney General Eric Holder to hold all responsible parties accountable and make sure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. While we can’t get every dime of every retirement, college or savings account back, we can certainly make sure that greedy Wall Street speculators understand the full consequence of their actions.”

On Friday, Braley joined Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) and 60 other Members of Congress in urging Holder to pursue all appropriate criminal charges against those involved in fraudulent activity at Goldman Sachs and other institutions. Today, Braley joined Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Elijah Cummings (MD-07), Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL), along with 56 other Members of Congress, in sending a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro. The letter asks her to pursue investigations into the remaining 24 ABACUS transactions for securities fraud, evaluate the extent of any receipt, by Goldman Sachs, of fraudulently-generated AIG-issued credit default swap payments, and vigorously pursue the recovery of such payments on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer.

The full text of both letters are attached.

 

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Governor Quinn Announces New 'Put Illinois to Work' Employment Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 08:04

State, Federal Plan Seeks to Create More Than 15,000 Jobs

CHICAGO – April 26, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today unveiled the Put Illinois to Work (PIW) program, an anti-poverty program aimed at building a healthy workforce by putting unemployed and underemployed Illinois residents back to work. The new program is expected to create more than 15,000 jobs.

“Put Illinois to Work will provide good-paying jobs that will help support families and strengthen communities,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “The program will also assist in building a workforce that possesses the skills, abilities and experiences that Illinois employers need to remain competitive in the U.S. and global marketplace.”

Put Illinois to Work is a collaborative effort of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS). Funding is provided through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF), which was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Through Put Illinois to Work, eligible Illinois residents will be placed in subsidized employment positions with participating worksites for up to six months, learning valuable skills and supporting their families. The program will help stimulate Illinois’ ailing economy and develop a healthy workforce by providing meaningful work experience for participants.

“Put Illinois to Work is an exciting opportunity to employ thousands of Illinoisans during a time of economic downturn and high unemployment,” said IDHS Secretary Michelle R. B. Saddler. “The program will draw down federal funds that will stimulate the Illinois economy and even more importantly, will help the citizens we serve to gain critical skills in the workforce.”

Private, public and non-profit businesses are encouraged to sign on with Put Illinois to Work. Eligible participants will be matched to subsidized employment opportunities with these worksites in hopes that they might transition into an unsubsidized position at the program’s conclusion.

Eligible worksites and participants must meet program criteria and agree to adhere to specific programmatic requirements. Participants must be age 18-21, or 18 and over and the parent (custodial or non-custodial) of a minor child. All participants must have a household income below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($2,428 per month for a family of two) and be legally present and authorized to work.

For eligibility criteria and additional information on Put Illinois to Work, visit www.PutIllinoistoWork.Illinois.gov.

 

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