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Mike Pence Secures the No Law Zone Around Wall Street

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Wall Street Street SignMillions of Americans have quietly been pondering for months what a President Mike Pence would be like should Donald Trump be impeached or resign. Yesterday they found out and it’s not a pretty picture.

After the U.S. Senate tied 50-50 on a vote yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to keep the nation’s courthouse doors closed to the customers of the Too-Big-to-Fail banks on Wall Street – effectively strengthening the no law zone that already exists for these banks.

The vote came about as a result of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issuing its final rule in July which would allow consumers who have been defrauded in financial transactions involving credit cards and bank accounts to have access to file a group action (known legally as a “class action”) using the nation’s courts. The CFPB was created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010 and Republicans in Congress, particularly Jeb Hensarling, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, have been trying to gut its power ever since. Hensarling’s last political campaign was heavily financed by the same Wall Street banks who benefit from his efforts to marginalize the CFPB.

Here’s the background:

Wall Street is the only industry in America that contractually bans both its customers and its employees from accessing the nation’s courts as a condition of opening an account or getting a job there. (That’s likely because it’s also the only industry that has the brazenness to let the top lawyers of the largest Wall Street banks meet in secret each year to plan their strategies for keeping their no law zone in force.)

Instead of being able to go to court with a claim of fraud (if you’re a customer), or a claim for labor law violations, like failure to pay overtime or sexual harassment (if you’re an employee), Wall Street makes its customers and employees sign an agreement to take all such claims into an industry-run or privately-run arbitration system.

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