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Jeff Merkley on Corporations

Democratic Jr Senator (OR)

 


Hard look at abusive practices in the credit card industry

Congress should take a hard look at abusive practices of some in the credit card industry. Limiting bait-and-switch marketing, requiring the disclosure of the true-cost of making minimum payments, and restoring the 10-day grace periods that used to be standard in credit agreements are all ways to guarantee families are on an even playing field when it comes to their finances.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Ban the predatory practices of the mortgage lenders

Among mortgage lenders, prepayment penalties and excessive fees have become the norm for extracting more and more hard earned cash out of consumers. States have led the way on trying to protect families from losing their most important asset --their home; it is now time for Congress move in that direction too, banning those practices when they cross the line from legitimate transactions into predatory practices.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Capped payday loan rates

Jeff was the chief sponsor of House Bill 2871, which imposes an interest rate cap of about 36 percent on state-regulated consumer loans in Oregon. It protects borrowers of the short-term payday and car title loans in Oregon. Prior to this legislation, Oregon was one of only 16 states that did not cap interest rates on consumer loans. Since the legislature lifted the usury cap in 1981, predatory lenders have flourished, charging rates on consumer loans that have at times exceeded 500 percent.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Capped the amount check cashers can charge

Left unchecked, some lenders have devised other methods of bleeding family finances. They have found creative ways around Oregon law, charging high interest rates and excessive fees. So under Jeff’s leadership, the legislature put a stop to it. They capped the amount check cashers can charge; made sure loans made by internet, phone, and mail were subject to the same usury laws as bricks-and-mortar lenders; and capped the interest rate on loans that use car titles as collateral.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

No approval if a borrower can’t afford the loan

Too many American families have lost their homes in the recent housing market collapse for Congress to stand by and do nothing. Big lenders like Countrywide locked homebuyers into loans they couldn’t afford, refused to help families refinance, and then skipped town when the bubble burst. That’s no way to build a strong economy and it is no way to put families on sound financial footing. The principle is simple, if a borrower can’t afford the loan, the underwriter should not approve them.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

End billion dollar giveaways to oil companies

When oil companies were reporting historic profits and the price of gas was squeezing families and businesses, Gordon Smith voted in favor of providing billions of taxpayer dollars to pad big oil’s bottom line. Merkley will work to repeal more than $18 billion in tax breaks given to big oil companies and invest those funds in creating new green-collar clean energy jobs with good wages.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Stop companies from setting up offshore tax shelters

We can take steps here at home to make sure all corporations are pitching in with their fair share by reforming the tax code to stop companies from setting up tax shelters in Bermuda in order to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. Gordon Smith continually supports allowing companies to shelter their assets in offshore accounts, rather than making them pay their fair share like the rest of us do.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Rated 86% by UFCW, indicating an anti-management/pro-labor record.

Merkley scores 86% by UFCW on labor-management issues

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is North America's Neighborhood Union--1.3 million members with UFCW locals in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Our members work in supermarkets, drug stores, retail stores, meatpacking and meat processing plants, food processing plants, and manufacturing workers who make everything from fertilizer to shoes. We number over 60,000 strong with 25,000 workers in chemical production and 20,000 who work in garment and textile industries.

    The UFCW Senate scorecard is based on these key votes:
  1. American Jobs Act (+)
  2. Balanced Budget Amendment (-)
  3. Rejecting Cut, Cap, and Balance (+)
  4. Repeal Health Care Law (-)
  5. Sen. Am. 14 Wicker Am. to S 223, excluding unionization at TSA (-)
  6. Sen. Am. 740 McCain Am. to HR 2112, defunding TAA (-)
  7. Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act (TAA) (+)
Source: UFCW website 12-UFCW-S on May 2, 2012

Corporate political spending is not free speech.

Merkley signed Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United

Constitutional Amendment

  1. Whereas the right to vote in public elections belongs only to natural persons, so shall the ability to make contributions and expenditures to influence the outcome of public elections belong only to natural persons.
  2. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to restrict the power of Congress and the States to protect the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, limit the corrupting influence of private wealth in public elections, and guarantee the dependence of elected officials on the people alone by taking actions which may include the establishment of systems of public financing for elections, or the imposition of requirements to ensure the disclosure of [election] contributions and expenditures.
  3. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to alter the freedom of the press.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:[Supreme Court majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, for which the Constitutional Amendment is proposed as a remedy. The FEC had ruled that the movie "Hillary", released in 2008 to persuade voters against Hillary Clinton, was illegal because it was a disguised campaign contribution made by a corporation. The Supreme Court overruled the FEC]:

Modern day movies might portray public officials in unflattering ways. Yet if a covered transmission [is broadcast] during the blackout period, a felony occurs solely because a corporation, [instead of a candidate or donors, paid] in order to engage in political speech. Speech would be suppressed in the realm where its necessity is most evident: in the public dialogue preceding a real election. Governments are often hostile to speech, but it seems stranger than fiction for our Government to make this political speech a crime. Some members of the public might consider Hillary to be insightful and instructive; some might find it to be [unfair]; those assessments, however, are not for the Government to make.

Source: H.J.RES.34 / S.J.RES.11 14_SJR11 on Mar 13, 2013

Deregulating banks encourages discriminatory practices.

Merkley voted NAY Banking Bill

Congressional Summary:

Supporting press release from Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-6): This legislation will foster economic growth by providing relief to Main Street, tailor regulations for better efficacy, and most importantly it will empower individual Americans and give them more opportunity.

Opposing statement on ProPublica.org from Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-5): The bill includes many provisions I support: minority-owned banks and credit unions in underserved communities have legitimate regulatory burden concerns. Unfortunately, exempting mortgage disclosures enacted to detect discriminatory practices will only assist the Trump Administration in its overall effort to curtail important civil rights regulations. I simply cannot vote for any proposal that would help this Administration chip away at laws that I and my colleagues worked so hard to enact and preserve.

Legislative outcome: Passed House 258-159-10 on May 22, 2018(Roll call 216); Passed Senate 67-31-2 on March 14, 2018(Roll call 54); Signed by President Trump. May 24, 2018

Source: Congressional vote 16-S2155 on Mar 14, 2018

Reducing tax rates balloons federal deficit & cuts programs.

Merkley voted NAY Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Summary by GovTrack.US: (Nov 16, 2017)

Case for voting YES by Heritage Foundation (12/19/17):This is the most sweeping update to the US tax code in more than 30 years. The bill would lower taxes on businesses and individuals and unleash higher wages, more jobs, and untold opportunity through a larger and more dynamic economy. The bill includes many pro-growth features, including a deep reduction in the corporate tax rate, a scaled-back state and local tax deduction, full expensing for five years, and lower individual tax rates.

Case for voting NO by Sierra Club (11/16/17): Republicans have passed a deeply regressive tax plan that will result in painful cuts to core domestic programs, to give billionaires and corporate polluters tax cuts while making American families pay the price. Among the worst provisions:

  • This plan balloons the federal deficit by over $1.5 trillion. Cutting taxes for the rich now means cuts to the federal budget and entitlements later.
  • The bill hampers the booming clean energy economy by ending tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and for wind and solar energy.
  • The bill opens up the Arctic Refuge to drilling, a thinly veiled giveaway to the fossil fuel industry.

    Legislative outcome: Passed House, 224-201-7, roll call #699 on 12/20; passed Senate 51-48-1, roll call #323 on 12/20; signed by Pres. Trump on 12/22.

    Source: Congressional vote 17-HR1 on Nov 16, 2017

    Restrict corporate use of consumer mandatory arbitration.

    Merkley signed restricting corporate use of consumer mandatory arbitration

    Excerpts from Letter from 35 Senators to the CFPB: We write to commend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for its proposed rule to limit the use of mandatory, pre-dispute ("forced") arbitration clauses in consumer financial product and service contracts. Every day, Americans across the country are forced to sign away their constitutional right to access the courts as a condition of purchasing common products and services like credit cards, checking accounts, and private student loans. Binding arbitration is a privatized justice system that studies show consistently produces results that favor large corporations and offers no meaningful appeals process. As a result, consumers are left without redress, and companies are unaccountable for their unscrupulous behavior.

    Opposing freedom argument: (Cato Institute, "ATLA monopoly," May 2002): The trial lawyers new goal is to tighten their monopoly grip on the court system, and prevent the rest of us from choosing a more efficient means of resolving our disputes. Arbitration is simply private court. Lawyers with a vested interest in a monopoly court system are trying to stop the arbitration business from developing. But there's nothing forced or mandatory about it. Contracts are the result of choice. People should be free to choose for themselves what contracts to make and what rights to give up.

    Opposing economic argument: (Heritage Foundation, "The Unfair Attack on Arbitration," July 17, 2013): Any study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should examine whether a limit on arbitration would:

    Source: Letter to CFPB Director 17LTR-CFPB on Aug 4, 2016

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