Saturday, July 20, 2013

Elizabeth Warren Wins Debate on CNBC (video)

Senator Elizabeth Warren appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" last Friday to discuss her proposed update of the Glass-Steagall Act and the big banks --- but the station's hosts didn't appear to be willing participants --- they almost sounded hostile.

The interview was later posted at Elizabeth Warren's YouTube channel and the website Upworthy.Com helped make the video go viral. Then CNBC filed a copyright complaint against Warren --- and the video was since removed from her YouTube channel. (What didn't CNBC want the general public to see?)

Warren co-sponsored a bill with Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Angus King (I-Maine). The bill is aimed at reining in risk at the nation's biggest banks by separating traditional banks that offer checking and savings accounts insured by the FDIC from riskier financial institutions. The latter category includes companies such as Goldman Sachs, AIG and others that are involved in investment banking, insurance, credit default swaps (derivatives), hedge funds and private equity.

The bill would essentially roll back the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the bill that Republican Senator Phil Gramm helped introduce, and that President Bill Clinton signed into law. Warren's bill would reinstate provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act. (Three years later Senator Gramm went to work for the banking giant USB).

CNBC has posted the video of Warren's interview on their web site, but when informed that their embed system didn't work on mobile devices and tended to break sites, they uploaded the clip to their own YouTube channel. (Further below is the embedded video.)

CNBC host Joe Kernen opened the discussion by asking Elizabeth Warren the silly question of how she'd like to be addressed --- as Professor or as Senator --- reminding us of the Massachusetts Senatorial debate between Warren and Scott Brown.

Three Strikes and you're out!

During the interview, Warren was triple-tagged teamed by three CNBC hosts --- Joe Kernen, Amanda Drury and Brian Sullivan --- but Warren easily countered all their assertions that financial regulation can't prevent the banks' risky bets.

Joe Kernen was dismissive of Warren's short history on U.S. banking, saying it was all "apples and oranges."

Amanda Drury said that according to every report she's ever read, and everyone she's ever spoken to, that there's "a very, very, very slim chance" of Warren's bill ever passing. Warren responded: "Well let me put it this way, if you don't fight for it, the chances are zero."

Brian Sullivan asked Warren, "Shouldn't we just tell the American consumer that no matter what we do, there will be bank boom and bust cycles, no matter what the laws and regulations" --- but then he later says, "I didn't say regulation never worked."

I also have a copy of the video in case YouTube pulls it down again. But personally, I really don't see the big deal. By now we're all very aware of the banks nefarious dealings and of Senator Warren's attempts to correct these abuses. But why would a media outlet like CNBC (whose parent company is the tax dodger evader avoider GE) complain? Is it because CNBC is working on behalf of the big financial institutions? Could it be because a host of big banks and private equity firms owns GE stock --- and just wants to control the public message? Or maybe it's because an advertiser on CNBC's website (ING, a Dutch bank) objected to the content of the video.

UpWorthy says this raises a larger question: Aren't U.S. Congressional Senators allowed to share clips of themselves on TV? What provoked CNBC (via YouTube) to pull this specific video down in the first place? UpWorthy also sent CNBC a list of other Senator's interviews that were also posted on YouTube, but without any of CNBC's copyright objections.

Check out these recent headlines from the Wall Street Journal:

* Goldman Sachs's Profit Doubles on Strong Trading Revenue
* HDFC Bank April-June Profit Increases 30%
* Citigroup's Profits Rises 42%
* Wells Fargo Profits Jumps 19%
* J.P. Morgan Profits Surge 31%
* Bank Makes Case for Higher Short-Term Rates
* Rising Mortgage Rates Take Banks on a New Ride
* Banks Cautious as Profits Rise

But the banks don't think they are earning enough as it is, so they are also spending millions lobbying to weaken Dodd-Frank:

* Huffington Post: Elizabeth Warren Vows To Fight Legislation Weakening Dodd-Frank
* Bloomberg: Swap Regulators Face Congressional Push to Curb Dodd-Frank
* Think Progress: Congress Moves To Weaken Dodd-Frank Reforms That Officials Want Strengthened
* Rolling Stone: DejaVu on the Hill: Wall Street Lobbyists Roll Back Finance Reform, Again
* Mother Jones: Democrats Are Undermining Wall Street Reform, Too
* Washington Post: Is it already time to weaken Dodd-Frank?

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