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ICYMI: At Hearing with Megabank CEOs, Committee Democrats Ask Hard-Hitting Questions

NNPA NEWSWIRE — WASHINGTON – Yesterday, at a hearing entitled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: A Review of Global Systemically Important Banks 10 years after the Financial Crisis,” Committee Democrats asked the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of seven of the nation’s largest financial institutions tough questions on behalf of hardworking consumers.

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WASHINGTON – Yesterday, at a hearing entitled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: A Review of Global Systemically Important Banks 10 years after the Financial Crisis,” Committee Democrats asked the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of seven of the nation’s largest financial institutions tough questions on behalf of hardworking consumers.

Read below for 10 tough questions Committee Democrats asked the CEOs to answer during the hearing.

1. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee of Investor Protection and Capital Markets 

“After the Parkland shooting last year, where a lone gunman killed 17 student and staff with a military-style semiautomatic rifle, two of the banks on this panel, Citibank and Bank of America, stepped up to the plate and adopted formal policies limiting their business with certain gun industry clients, and I want to publicly thank them.

Now, Mr. Dimon, last week you published your letter to shareholders. The section on responsible banking, you wrote the paragraph that is up on the screen right now. You said that turning down clients with low character is “often the only way to be a responsible bank.” Well, actions speak louder than words on guns, Mr. Dimon, and from what I can tell these are just words to you.

Let’s talk about some of the actions on your bank’s activities. Even after the horrific massacres at Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and Parkland, JPMorgan has arranged about 273 million dollars of loans for the manufacturers of military-style firearms, the same weapons that are being used in mass shootings all over our country. Even worse, last year JPMorgan took partial ownership of Remington, the manufacturer of the exact gun that was used to kill 20 children in the Sandy Hook shooting. And JPMorgan has refused to adopt a policy to ensure responsible lending to the gun industry, even though you claim client selection is important and even though two of your competitors have already adopted these policies.

So, my question is, will you live up to your own rhetoric, will you commit to adopting a formal policy that ensures responsible lending in your bank’s business with the gun industry?”

See below for video of Rep. Maloney’s Q&A.

2. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)

“So, let me ask you this question. If you were an employee and you saw your boss making 486 dollars for every dollar you made, how would you feel about that situation?”

See below for video of Rep. Velazquez’s Q&A.

3. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance

“Last year, your banks accounted for only 25 percent of loans to small businesses, which frankly is not good enough. As drivers of our economy, we must promote small businesses and any impediments in access to credit can undermine their business leading to job loss.

Mr. Moynihan, the CFPB has not collected small business lending data that it’s supposed to do under Section 1071 of Dodd-Frank. Unlike the mortgage market, we have far less information about what is happening in the small business space including potential discrimination. To ensure we have a fair marketplace, shouldn’t policymakers have access to that kind of data?”

See below for video of Rep. Clay’s Q&A.

4. Rep. Al Green (D-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations 

“Do you believe that your bank benefited from slavery in some way in terms of its business practices?”

See below for video of Rep. Green’s Q&A.

5. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA)

“I want to ask you first and then go down the line, (1) if you hire [DACA recipients] and secondly, if you help them in their renewals.”

See below  for Rep. Vargas’ Q&A.

6. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)

“…Goldman Sachs’ big initiative is to help 10,000 [women]. Is this initiative missing a few zeros?”

See below for video of Rep. Porter’s Q&A.

7. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA)

“I think we all know that you profited tremendously from the tax cuts but I just want to run through a few of them.

  • Morgan Stanley: $1.1 Billion
  • Citigroup: $1.7 Billion
  • Goldman Sachs: $1 Billion
  • Bank of America: $3.5 Billion
  • JP Morgan: $3.7 Billion.

Meanwhile, each of you makes at least 150 times what your median worker is being paid and three of you on this panel make over 350 times what that median worker makes. Given that the administration’s rationale for those tax cuts was so that companies can reinvest the money, Mr. Dimon, can you explain how you’re investing that $3.7 billion in growing your company and are you using it to increase pay for your workers and reduce the pay ratio?”

See below for video of Rep. Axne’s Q&A.

8. Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN):

“I want to take our few minutes together to seek your advice and counsel, if I might, starting with the fact that in our nation almost 50 percent of our wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 1 percent of our population. 20 percent of annual income accrues to just the top 1 percent of earners. Most of the CEOs of the S&P 500 companies, including each of you, earn anywhere between 100 and 500 times more than the median earners at the respective businesses. And every one of these indicators is moving in the wrong direction, in my estimation.

So, I have two questions and I want each of you if you would to take about 30 seconds to answer. The first is, do you believe that our growing wealth and income disparities pose an economic and social risk to our country? And if so, what can you each do, and what can we do here in Congress, to address it?”

See below for video of Rep. Phillips’ Q&A.

9. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA):

“More than a decade later we are still grappling with the consequences of a crisis created by greed and the complete and utter disregard for the welfare of everyday Americans. And yet, the narrative has shifted from a focus on Main Street suffering to a celebration of Wall Street’s recovery. In the district that I represent, the Massachusetts 7th, a study by the Pew Research Center shows that from 2005 to 2009, median wealth among Hispanic households fell by 66 percent, by 53 percent among Black households, 31 percent among Asian households, and by 16 percent among White households.

These families were often the target of subprime lending, yet have never been repaid. Your bank shareholders are reaping record profits while there is little evidence that these lower income individuals and communities of color are anywhere near close to recovering. In fact, just yesterday, we were discussing the ongoing prevalence of redlining and other discriminatory practices, despite the fact that 98 percent of banks are passing CRA examinations. This is exacerbating the wealth gap in Massachusetts and across the country. Today I want to dig a bit deeper and resurface a report from 2016 which addresses pinklining.

Are any of you familiar with the phrase pinklining? Well women were 30 to 46 percent more likely to receive subprime mortgage loans during the financial crisis than men. And Black women were 256 percent more likely to receive subprime loans than White men. 256 percent.

Mr. Dimon, you cowrote a piece recently entitled ‘Advancing Black Pathways.” You spoke about how you wanted to address the racial wealth gap. That is wonderful. But what’s even better than an op-ed is action. For the purposes of the record, could you clarify, in 2017 JPMorgan agreed to a $53 million settlement with the DOJ, pertaining to allegations of what?”

See below for video of Rep. Pressley’s Q&A.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):

“Mr. Corbat, is a cost-benefit analysis that weighs the cost of government fines versus the potential financial upside of potentially breaking the law, does that factor into controversial decision making around misconduct at your bank?”

See below for video of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Q&A.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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She Bought Freedom for Herself and Other Slaves Today a Park is Named in Her Honor

Alethia Browning Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised. 

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Alethia Browning Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

In her early years, Alethia Browning Tanner sold vegetables in a produce stall near President’s Square – now known as Lafayette Square – in what is now Northwest Washington, D.C.

According to the D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources, and Records, Tanner bought her freedom in 1810 and later purchased several relatives’ release.

She was the first woman on the Roll of Members of the Union Bethel AME Church (now Metropolitan AME Church on M Street), and Turner owned land and a store at 14th and H Streets, which she left to her nephews – one of whom later sold the property for $100,000.

Named in her honor, the Alethia Tanner Park is located at 227 Harry Thomas Way in Northeast DC.

The park sits near the corner of Harry Thomas Way and Q Street and is accessible by foot or bike via the Metropolitan Branch Trail, just north of the Florida Ave entrances.

“The first Council legislative meeting of Black History Month, the Council took a second and final vote on naming the new park for Alethia Tanner, an amazing woman who is more than worthy of this long-delayed recognition,” Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said in 2020 ahead of the park’s naming ceremony.

“[Her upbringing] itself would be a remarkable legacy, but Ms. Tanner was also active in founding and supporting many educational, religious, and civic institutions,” McDuffie remarked.

“She contributed funds to start the first school for free Black children in Washington, the Bell School. Feeling unwelcome at her predominately segregated church, she & other church members founded the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church fell on hard times and was sold at auction by creditors, she and her family stepped in and repurchased the church.”

Born in 1781 on a plantation owned by Tobias and Mary Belt in Prince George’s County, Maryland, historians noted that Tanner had two sisters, Sophia Bell and Laurena Cook.

“Upon the death of Mary Pratt (Tobias had predeceased his wife) in 1795, the plantation, known as Chelsea Plantation, was inherited by their daughter Rachel Belt Pratt,” historians wrote.

“Mary Belt’s will stipulated that Laurena be sent to live with a sibling of Rachel Pratt’s while Sophia and Alethia were to stay at the Chelsea Plantation.”

Tanner sold vegetables at the well-known market just north of the White House in Presidents Park. It is possible – and probable – she met Thomas Jefferson there as he was known to frequent the vegetable markets there along with other prominent early Washingtonians, according to historians at attacksadams.com. 

“There are also White House records suggesting she worked for Thomas Jefferson in some capacity, likely doing various housework tasks,” the researchers determined.

Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised.

“Self-emancipation was not an option for all enslaved peoples, but both Alethia and her sister Sophia were able to accomplish this, almost entirely through selling vegetables at the market,” the researchers continued.

“Alethia Tanner moved to D.C. and became one of a significant and growing number of free Black people in the District. In 1800, 793 free Black people were living in D.C.

By 1810, there were 2,549, and by 1860, 11,131 free Black people lived in D.C., more than the number of enslaved peoples.”

Historians wrote that beginning at about 15 years after securing her manumission, Alethia Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

All in all, Tanner would have paid the Pratt family well over $5,000. All accomplished with proceeds from her own vegetable market business, they concluded.

“Alethia Tanner, it’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work, and perseverance,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said at the park’s dedication.

“I just learned about this history through this, so it shows how when you name a park, you really educate people on the historical significance.”

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