Alliance for Democracy

Sen Dodd Financial reform bill undermines states rights

Posted in Financial crisis by Alliance for Democracy Portland OR on May 7, 2010

I received the following a few days in response to my email on Senator Dodd’s financial mis-reform bill (bad) as well as the Safe Banking Act (good) of which Sen Merkely is an early sponsor. 
According to the press release from our friends at the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, buried in Dodd’s bill is a anti-democratic provison would be preemt the ability of states to regulate insurance.  When we can see the dangers of too-big-to-fail financial institutes, of globalization, why would we support preventing states from regulating insurance.

David e. Delk, Alliance for Democracy – Portland Chapter

For Immediate Release
April 29, 2010 

Statement on the “Merkely Amendment” to Protect Financial Regulations from International Preemption

by Arthur Stamoulis, Director, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign

“Americans want better oversight of the financial industry, but a provision hidden in the Senate’s 1200-page financial reform bill actually promotes new deregulation.  

The Senate’s financial reform bill grants a newly-created Office of National Insurance with the power to enter into international financial service agreements without Congressional approval, and to determine which state insurance regulations are preempted by these agreements.  

Never before has Congress granted a federal agency the right to unilaterally set U.S. trade policy.  This deregulatory measure is truly astounding, and could have a profound effect on both state sovereignty and the financial stability of the nation.  The last thing we need is the meltdown that hit the big banks spreading into state-regulated insurance operations.  

Thankfully, freshman Senator Jeff Merkley has crafted an amendment to remove this egregious provision from the financial reform bill.  The Merkley amendment has the potential to head off a disaster in the making.  

Many elected officials have turned a blind eye to the deregulatory financial measures in World Trade Organization pacts and other international trade agreements.  Oregon is lucky to have a Senator more interested in the economic health of the state and the nation than in the commercial interests of foreign insurance providers.  Hopefully, the Merkley measure will pass and the reform debate can continue.”###

Eyes On Trade: Office of National Insurance: Subverting Democracy?


Office of National Insurance: Subverting Democracy?

Posted: 01 May 2010 12:00 PM PDT

Proponents of NAFTA-style trade agreements are trying to pull a fast one on us by sneaking some devastating provisions into the Senate financial reform bill.  Right now there is language in the bill that creates an Office of National Insurance (ONI) within the Treasury Department that would strike down state insurance policies if the ONI believes that they violate trade agreement rules.  The ONI would also be able to negotiate and approve new agreements that give foreign insurers greater rights without having to ask for approval from Congress first.  Senator Jeff Merkley is leading the charge with an amendment to the bill that would prevent this dangerous seizure of state and congressional authority. Click here to urge your Senator to support Merkley’s amendment.

Think this is something that only threatens states like New York, where there are lots of foreign companies? Think again. Consider the stakes for Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, where the following foreign-owned insurance companies could benefit from an international trade pact drive towards lower regulation:

Great-West Lifeco Inc., based in Canada
Cunningham Lindsey Group Inc., based in Canada
Willis Group Holdings Limited, based in the U.K.

In fact, there are foreign insurance companies in every state in the Union that could take advantage of any new rights that the ONI would give them.  Check out the chart below to see the number of foreign insurance firms operating in your state.  Keep in mind, however, that the presence of even one firm would be enough to create problems for state insurance regulations.

Arthur Stamoulis, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, (503) 736-9777

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