Rev. Patrick O’Connor and Mike Gecan in the New York Daily News:
Only sustained pressure and real power will generate lasting change. That’s why another, largely unnoticed development in a governmental office down the street from Zuccotti Park, holds such promise. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has refused to go along with a tepid settlement offer being pushed by the White House and its hand-picked attorneys general, which would let the banks that destroyed so many families and communities off the hook for a mere $20 billion. Our proposal is to add a “0” and make it $200 billion, which would approximate the tobacco settlement of several years ago and finally make it possible for many Americans to recover from the foreclosure threat.
When that happens, we might finally start to get a handle on this economic crisis. We might finally dig out of this hole we’re in.
We believe that only the movement of money will finally convince the banks to act more responsibly. Last year, Massachusetts withdrew more than $240 million last year from Bank of America because of dissatisfaction with BofA’s practices. When billions start leaving, when the cops and food vendors and office workers, the unions and religious groups move their money, banks will suddenly rediscover traditional values and accountable ways of operating that served them – and the rest of us – well.
The financial community may be able withstand the charge of any movement, even this one. All it has to do is play for time, so that cold weather, missteps, fickleness and new crises can take their tolls.
But it can’t withstand the pressure that institutions with staying power – attorneys general focused on a real solutions, citizen organizations deeply rooted in their cities and counties and states, unions that stop enabling the banks with their own pension funds and credit card deals – can bring to bear.