By Bill Maher
For those Bernie Sanders voters who went for Trump in the general election, Republicans passed something last month that should make you feel really stupid. Mike Pence – a corporatist tool dressed as a man – cast the deciding vote on a bill that prevents consumers from suing their banks.
When you apply for a credit card or bank account, Wall Street buries stuff in the fine print that says if there’s a disagreement, you have to go through an arbitration process that’s rigged by the banks. When Walls Fargo made up millions of fake accounts and charged their customers for them, they used these jeweler’s eye arbitration clauses to avoid getting sued. When Equifax got hacked and lost 143 million Americans’ private information, they offered “free credit monitoring,” but only after you signed a contract with one of these hidden clauses saying you can’t sue them.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Elizabeth Warren’s baby that was established in Dodd-Frank – called bullshit on this. They put in rules making it easier for wronged consumers to sue, and to join class action lawsuits with effective lawyers. This bill kills that.
Don’t get distracted by Trump’s daily tweet farts – in some ways he’s just a traditional Republican out to make sure Wall Street can speak truth to the powerless. This is an area where he agrees with all his critics: Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, John McCain, Susan Collins – they all voted with him on this.
Their talking point is always “frivolous lawsuits” – which is especially funny now that they’ve elected the King of Frivolous Lawsuits president. The judge is still laughing about the one he filed against me.
Republicans don’t care about “frivolous lawsuits.” They don’t mind when rich people like Trump clog up the judicial system. What they want to prevent is the little guy – “the forgotten men and women” in America – from being able to sue their precious corporations.
Steve Bannon said recently that Trump’s election “was a repudiation of the elites.” That’s the biggest con. The elites are banks who want carte blanche to cheat people. Trump wants that, too. As does Steve Bannon, formerly of Goldman Sachs. If Bannon were a real populist, he’d be out there fighting against bills like this. Instead, he’s fighting to replace corporatist Republicans with even crazier corporatist Republicans.
Every Republican senator but two (John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina), and every Republican House member but one voted bank, not populist. There was no populist groundswell out there saying, “Take away my right to sue Wells Fargo!”
People always say, “But Democrats take money from corporations, too.” This vote is a good example of why it’s better to look at how they actually vote. Every single Democrat voted against this. If Democrats did a better job defending themselves, they’d point out that they created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and actually are trying to drain the swamp of this army of bank lobbyists trying to kill everything it does.