We should overhaul the financial industries to end their culture of impunity and to prevent them from committing fraud or malfeasance so severe as to drive our nation into a massive recession or depression.
Since finance, banking, and insurance institutions occupy a privileged position of power at the center of commerce, this special advantage brings with it special social responsibilities. We must ensure that the institutions chartered for these roles take that responsibility seriously and serve the public interest.
We must aim to reform the financial industries to eliminate usury (exorbitantly high interest rates on loans) and ensure that they meet their obligations to taxpayers and local communities.
- Break up our nation’s largest banks and financial institutions so that none is “too big to fail.” End taxpayer- funded bailouts for banks, insurers and other financial companies.
- Regulate all financial derivatives, ban any predatory or gambling use of derivatives, and require full transparency for all derivative trades, to control risk of systemic financial collapse. Require regulatory pre-approval of exotic financial instruments.
- Re-enact the Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited bank holding companies from owning other financial companies and engaging in risky economic transactions.
- Oppose the federal government being the final guarantor of speculative investments. During a financial crisis, if the federal government and/or a central bank must provide relief, it should be given in an equal manner and at the most local level possible, so that benefits are equitably dispersed and burdens are equitably borne. So rather than pouring trillions of dollars into the banking system, they should have provided direct mortgage relief to homeowners suffering the most from the housing bubble and negotiated with lenders to provide partial loan forgiveness.
- Ensure that low- and middle-income people have access to banking services, affordable loans, and small-business supporting capital, especially through credit unions.
- Oppose disinvestment practices, in which lending and financial institutions move money deposited in local communities out of those same communities, damaging the best interests of their customers and community.
- Support the extension of the Community Reinvestment Act to provide public and timely information on the extent of housing loans, small business loans to minority-owned enterprises, investments in community development projects, and affordable housing.
- Strengthen disclosure laws, anti-redlining laws, and openness on the part of lenders regarding what criteria they use in making lending decisions.
- Oppose arbitrary or discriminatory practices that deny individuals or small business access to credit.
- Support development of charter community development banks, which would be capitalized with public funds and work to meet the credit needs of local communities.
- Support the expansion of co-operative credit unions.
- Prosecute all financial fraud committed by criminal bankers. The Green Party calls for the aggressive investigation and prosecution of both individuals and corporate entities that engage in these criminal acts. Present laws shield corporate officers and employees from prosecution. Existing fines resulting from convictions against corporate entities do not provide an adequate deterrent to their abuse of power. Penalties for crimes against ordinary consumers should include prison terms for executives and employees, as well as fines, revocations of charters and confiscation of corporate and individual assets.
- Home ownership represents the primary method by which many individuals accumulate wealth. If lending institutions are found to have engaged in fraudulent lending or foreclosure practices, then judicial remedies should include fines and imprisonment, as well as equitable remedies in the form of damages, refinancing, and debt forgiveness for homeowners. Laws should be strengthened to protect consumers against foreclosure on their homes by banks and other lending agencies. Strict laws should be enacted that provide swift criminal prosecution of any lending agency, including executives, employees, lawyers and other firms that assist them in fraudulent practices and fraudulent foreclosures. Laws should also be enacted to provide individual homeowners with legal assistance through publicly-funded agencies when faced with any potential financial fraud, including foreclosure.
- Access to primary, secondary, post-secondary and vocational education should be a right of all, not a privilege of the wealthy, and certainly not an opportunity for predatory lenders. It’s time to forgive all student and parent loans taken out to finance post-secondary and vocational education. The estimated $40 billion is a fraction of the bailout distributed among the predatory lenders who created the student debt crisis and would make a material difference for households across the country.
- The new money that must be regularly added to an improving system as population and commerce grow will be created and spent into circulation by the U. S. Government for infrastructure, including the “human infrastructure” of education and health care. This begins with the $2.2 trillion the American Society of Civil Engineers warns us is needed to bring existing infrastructure to safe levels over the next 5 years. Per capita guidelines will assure a fair distribution of such expenditures across the United States, creating good jobs, re-invigorating the local economies and re-funding government at all levels. As this money is paid out to various contractors, they in turn pay their suppliers and laborers who in turn pay for their living expenses and ultimately this money gets deposited into banks, which are then in a position to make loans of this money, according to the new regulations.
- Clean up the insurance industry. Eliminate special-interest protections, collusion, over-pricing and industry-wide practices that too often injure the interests of the insured when they are most vulnerable. Prohibit bad-faith insurance practices, such as avoidance of obligations and price fixing.
- Enact single-payer universal health insurance. Until single-payer is established, we support laws that act to make insurance policies transportable from job to job.
- Support and encourage the insurance industry’s efforts for “loss prevention,” that is, to reduce the incidence of death, injuries, disease and other calamities.
- Support initiatives in secondary insurance markets that expand credit for economic development in inner cities, affordable housing and home ownership among the poor, sustainable agriculture and rural development maintaining family farms.
- Prohibit companies from being the beneficiary of insurance on their own employees.
Broader financial industry reforms
- Support a 10% cap on interest rates, above inflation, for credit cards, mortgages, payday loans and all other consumer lending.
- Aggressively crack down on crime, fraud, malfeasance and tax evasion in the financial and insurance industries.
- Reduce excessive executive pay.
- Support the formation of Citizens’ Utility Boards to defend the interests of consumers and policyholders.
- Favor a tax on stock, bond, foreign currency and derivatives transactions to discourage excessive speculation.
Source: Green Party