Kavanaugh: Good for Corporations, Bad for Your Wallet

By Dennis M. Kelleher and Stephen W. Hall

When people think of the Supreme Court, they think of cases about women’s rights, abortion rights, health care, immigration, gay rights, race and discrimination, the death penalty, the right to privacy, climate change, the environment and civil rights. That’s because they are important, controversial and, often, politically charged cases widely covered by the media.

However, there is another large category of important Supreme Court cases that impact the livelihoods, wealth, financial well-being and quality of life of every American: economic and financial cases that rarely get any mention beyond legal publications, much less mainstream media coverage.

Every year, the Supreme Court decides many critically important cases relating to all of those issues. The upcoming term of the Supreme Court starting this October will be no different, except that a new justice may be deciding those cases. That potential justice, Brett Kavanaugh, has a record on business and financial cases that is hostile to the economic interests of working Americans, particularly if they are ripped off or injured by corporations.

There is little doubt that if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will tilt the scales of justice in favor of corporations over consumers, workers, investors and retirees, while gutting the financial regulatory agencies’ ability to protect the public from scammers, predators and crooks.

The bottom line is that anyone who has a savings or checking account, credit card, debit card, mortgage, student loan, car loan, retirement plan, personal loan, college savings fund, publicly traded stock or any other financial product or service — meaning every single American — has to care about the Supreme Court’s momentous decisions that affect every one of those critical financial issues for every American family. Put differently, if you care about what’s in your wallet, you should be very worried if judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

A new Better Markets report we co-authored lays out the high stakes all Americans have in the next Justice of the Court. We analyze elements of Judge Kavanaugh’s past rulings and writings, finding several disturbing examples of his bias against ordinary consumers. For example, Judge Kavanaugh has:

  • Called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “a significant threat to individual liberty” and attempted to gut the agency by ruling that its structure was unconstitutional (a decision later overturned by the full D.C. Circuit);
  • Narrowly interpreted the anti-fraud provisions of the securities laws and even faulted the Securities and Exchange Commission for aggressively pursuing lawbreakers;
  • Undermined financial reform protections for Main Street;
  • Made plain his desire to abolish the legal principle requiring courts to show deference to a government agency’s interpretation of the law; and
  • Supported the establishment of more legal obstacles that limit the ability of agencies to broadly protect the public interest through major rules.

The report also looks at critically important Supreme Court cases coming this year that will impact the financial well-being of every American.  If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will be seated in time to rule on issues in ways that:

  • Force more injured consumers into mandatory arbitration;
  • Cut back the states’ role in protecting consumers;
  • Eliminate anti-fraud protections for investors; and
  • Limit the remedies available in class action litigation.

Anyone with a wallet should be very worried about Brett Kavanaugh joining the Supreme Court. His record of one-sided, pro-corporation, anti-consumer rulings will likely be the model for his decisions in upcoming cases that will affect every American.

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Reposted from Inequality.org

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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