The Fight for Financial Reform

For a PDF version of this, click here: Financial Reform

The Great Recession put more than eight million Americans out of work. Too-big banks, hedge fund managers, unsavory investors, all of these forces caused it. They engaged in complex, unregulated gambits with no transparency and they sold financial products (such as sub-prime home mortgages) that never should have been sold.

USAction was determined to put a stop to it.

In the spring of 2009, USAction and a small handful of groups came together to discuss building a coalition to pass financial reform. From the beginning we knew we’d need a coalition savvy and powerful enough to beat back the banks and other powerful players in the financial services industry.

From our discussions, Americans for Financial Reform was born. Leading AFR was Heather Booth, one of USAction’s founders and now the group’s vice president for external affairs.

From the start, AFR employed an inside-outside strategy. Inside the Beltway, it became the “go to” coalition for members of Congress who wanted to stand up to big banks. Outside the Beltway, USAction affiliates supplied much of AFR’s grassroots organizing power, speaking up in local communities for financial reform and mobilizing marches and rallies against the big banks.

New Jersey Citizen Action, with its long experience working on housing issues, weighed in with its House delegation and Senator Menendez. Citizen Action/Illinois worked to pressure Rep. Melissa Bean, who early on was organizing freshman and “moderate” Democrats to support the banking industry. And Maine People’s Alliance helped secure the support of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

In the summer of 2010, President Obama signed the Restoring American Financial Stability Act. Heather Booth and USAction affiliates helped reform the nation’s lending industry and financial system. We were responsible for protecting our neighborhoods, our homes and our pocketbooks and taken a big step in creating an economy that works for everyone.

We are USAction. We are the true majority.