As the Democrats scurry to adopt financial reform bill changes so as to please President Scott Brown, Consumers Union helps you call your Senators and urge them to vote for the strongest reforms possible, including those already in the bill. You may want to tell your Senators that backing down before every demand a potential deciding vote makes is a bad way to make laws. I mean, these Democrats have proven that they have no steel in their spines, and politicians only get the steel in their spines from two things: a) large amounts of unearned money and b) the people's informed counsel. You and I don't have a), but we do have b). Given the choice, I'd take b) over a) any day. You see that the big banks, bloated as they are on taxpayer-funded a), have acted like a bunch of spoiled brats throughout this process. So you can see where I might prefer having b).
Meanwhile, the Senate continues to vote down various versions of H.R. 4213, the unemployment extension bill, meaning that soon the long-term unemployed will have gone from Memorial Day to Independence Day without any of the help they need, thanks to the disgusting posturing of alleged "deficit hawks" from both parties, who never raise a peep when some defense contractor boondoggle or corporate welfare handout comes down the pike. Of course, because they're not getting help, we're not getting help, either -- those unemployed folks aren't able to contribute to state and federal taxes, aren't able to contribute to Social Security taxes, and aren't able to contribute to local economies. So NETWORK, the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, helps you email your Senators, again. I think H.R. 4213 merits a phone call; if you agree, NETWORK also provides a handy fact sheet. Warning: you'll be absolutely appalled by some of the "business tax breaks" the Senate has tried to insert into H.R. 4213. Distilled spirits from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands? Really?
Meanwhile, the Departments of Agriculture and Justice held a public hearing in Madison, Wisconsin, last Friday. The topic: possible antitrust violations in the dairy industry. Given that the big dairy processors have been gobbling up smaller dairy farms even more hungrily than usual lately, and posting record profits in the midst of our ongoing economic Armageddon, I think there's something there for the Justice Department to take a peek at. CREDO thinks so, too, and thus helps you tell Attorney General Holder to enforce the antitrust laws more vigorously, especially in regard to dairy farmers. We've seen signs that he'll do just that -- the Justice Department has already taken on Dean Foods for potential antitrust violations. But I won't be sure the Justice Department is really on our side until I see some results.
UPDATE. Despite extorting what he said he wanted from the financial reform bill, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) won't commit to voting for it, and says he "needs more time" to study it. I fed that through the politicianspeak-to-English translator I've been building, and it came out "I TRICKED YOU HAHAHA!" (No, really, it came out in all caps.) But this death-by-a-thousand-cuts tactic may backfire, for I (deep breath) may have misjudged the Democrats in this case -- they've replaced the bank tax with an end to the TARP program, an event I've long coveted. Can you picture ten thousand late October campaign ads telling of Republican opposition to ending the bailout? So can I. Also, Mr. Obama gets off a good one on Mr. Boehner's comment comparing the financial bailout bill to destroying an ant with a nuclear weapon -- though, really, dissing John Boehner isn't significantly harder than destroying an ant with a nuclear weapon.
ANOTHER UPDATE. Consider this a retroactive light posting notice: not only do I have nothing new to share about other legislative updates, but the ones I've described above are still fairly urgent. I should be back with new stuff either Monday or Tuesday; whether I'll have action alerts or penny rants, I can't say. In the meantime, have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday weekend, and always remember that you are America and you own your government.