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Republicans (Still) Hate The Poor: Senate Votes to Quash Collective Consumer Action

On Tuesday, 50 Republicans — aided by the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence — voted in Senate to kill an important consumer protection rule that allowed consumers to collectively sue credit card companies and banks.

In what Senator Elizabeth Warren described as a “giant, wet kiss to wall street,” the Senate barred consumers from banding together to bring class action lawsuits to collectively challenge abusive practices by financial institutions, forcing them to now individually litigate or arbitrate disputes instead. Since these other options are too expensive for the average consumer, most consumers will be forced to let any dispute with these institutions slide — leaving them free to do whatever harm they want. Consumer advocacy groups claim that companies such as Wells Fargo and Equifax now effectively have “a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Given this latest in the horror show of unfettered Republican capitalism, it’s worth remembering that the predatory practices of Wall Street, condoned and upheld by the U.S. government, disproportionately hurt people of color, especially women of color. For example, subprime lending targets women: who are 30 to 46 percent more likely to receive subprime mortgage loans. And if you think that’s bad: Black women were a shocking 256% more likely to receive subprime loans than white men. In fact, Wells Fargo — one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Republicans latest move — explicitly targeted Black and Latinx communities with predatory practices (they also called Black Americans “mud people” who received “ghetto loans.”) The rule is also a big blow for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog organization established after the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis which, as a reminder, cost African Americans half of their wealth.

The U.S. already has weak regulations to protect communities of color and working-class communities from financial institutions — and Tuesday’s vote is an indication that it can only get worse, especially for the most vulnerable. A feminist approach to politics must take this into account: our resistance cannot be built around merely opposing Trump, but recognizing the broader machinery that supports him, and its greedy every day efforts to push capitalism to its limits and milk all they can from the poor. This machinery includes a near-universal Republican support for gutting minimum wage (which affects women of color the most); killing healthcare (same); cutting taxes for the rich (same) and crippling unions and labor activism (you’re starting to get the picture).

The past few weeks has seen a slew of liberal praise for Republicans and former Republicans, such as Jeff Flake, John McCain, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, for condemning Trump. What this ignores — aside from the civil and human rights abuses all of these individuals have committed — is that the core horrors of Trump’s presidency (racism, white supremacy, sexism and xenophobia) are values entrenched in the Republican party itself. They are connected to, inseparable from and supported by the party’s class warfare and devout alignment with Wall Street.

The resistance— any resistance— worth its salt, cannot ally itself with ‘moderate’ Republicans in the hopes of ousting Trump for someone marginally better. When Democrats try and win over ‘moderate’ Republicans, or try to move rightwards themselves — by embracing Wall Street, rejecting the poor, and taking the vote of working-class communities of color screwed over by a bipartisan devotion to financial interests for granted — they are not rejecting Trump. Instead, they are bolstering the foundations of economic inequality, financial capitulation, and racialized capitalism that impoverished and divided the country and brought him into power in the first place. They are allying with what they believe are the ‘good’ Republicans, and ignoring that the roots of every rotten policy the Trump White House is responsible for, that we object to, lie in fundamental Republican party beliefs.

Whether Republicans ignore, reject, support, or condone Trump’s bigotry: the entire party, including its most moderate members, is unforgivable — as are any Democrats trying to tag along for the ride.


Meg is a law student in California. She's interested in law and politics, intersectional feminism, criminal justice, human rights, freedom of the press, the law and feminism, and the politics of South Asia.

Meg is a law student in California. She's interested in law and gender, race and criminal justice, human rights, cats, and sports.

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