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Elizabeth Warren's Powerful Speech: Supreme Court Is on the Path to Being a "Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Big Business"

The five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top ten most pro-corporate justices in a half century.

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But let’s be clear, we have always had to run uphill. We have had to fight for what we’ve achieved. Powerful interests have done everything they can to block reform. They attacked Social Security and Medicare. They attacked pensions and public employees. They attacked bank regulation and consumer protection.

The powerful interests have attacked so many of the basic foundations that built a strong middle class – and too many times, they have prevailed.

Even today, our work is uphill. The powerful interests fight us on every battlefield they can.

Look at the increasing corporate capture of the federal courts.

According to a recent study, the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top ten most pro-corporate justices in a half century – and Justices Alito and Roberts are numbers one and two – the most anti-consumer in this entire time. The Chamber of Commerce is now a major player in the Supreme Court, and its win rate has risen to 70% of all cases it supports.  Follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

Look at where we are on the “Too Big to Fail” problem.

Five years ago, experts said the banks had to be bailed out because there was too much concentration in banking and one failure would bring down the entire economy.  Now the four biggest banks are 30% larger than they were five years ago. The five largest banks now hold more than half of all banking assets in the country.  Because investors know they are too big to fail, those big banks get cheaper borrowing, which, according to one study, adds up to an annual $83 billion subsidy from taxpayers—another benefit of being Too Big to Fail. 

What about reform? The Dodd-Frank Act was an incredibly important achievement, but since it passed, the big banks and their army of lobbyists have fought every step of the way to delay, water down, block, or strike down regulations. When a new approach is proposed – like my bill with John McCain, Angus King, and Maria Cantwell to bring back Glass-Steagall – you know what happens – they throw everything they’ve got against it.

One more: take a look at what’s happening with trade deals.

For big corporations, trade agreement time is like Christmas morning. They can get special gifts they could never pass through Congress out in public. Because it’s a trade deal, the negotiations are secret and the big corporations can do their work behind closed doors. We’ve seen what happens here at home when our trading partners around the world are allowed to ignore workers rights, wages, and environmental rules. From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters, and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the upcoming trade deals in their favor.

Why are trade deals secret?  I’ve heard people actually say that they have to be secret because if the American people knew what was going on, they would be opposed.  Think about that.  I believe that if people would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not happen.

Finally, look what is happening in our states.  Republican governors in Indiana and Michigan push for so-called right to work laws, and in Wisconsin Scott Walker and the legislature he controls have declared war on working families by ripping the guts out of collective bargaining agreements. 

The fight continues to rage, and the powerful interests continue to be guided by their age-old principle: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” 

 
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