Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010
Imagine your foreclosure problems began the month after you paid off your mortgage. That despite multiple calls and visits to branches of JP Morgan Chase, you couldn't get the bank to acknowledge they had already received all the money you owed them. You called the bank month after month, multiple times a week, but fees and late charges began to accrue. A year later, Chase threatens foreclosure proceedings, wanting more money, even though you paid your mortgage off in full. Hard to imagine?
Sadly, this is the stark reality for Florence Pilgrim, an eighty-one-year-old grandmother and cancer survivor who is fighting to keep her home despite having repaid her mortgage. Today, Ms. Pilgrim will be among those protesting the next round of big bank bonuses outside the New York Stock Exchange. She and others will deliver a clear message that "Bank Crime Shouldn't Pay." The demonstration is being led by Community Voices Heard, Good Old Lower East Side, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, and VOCAL New York.
This holiday season will be a thin one for tens of millions of American families. Homeowners like Ms. Pilgrim will be battling with banks to save their homes, millions of workers will be without a job, and essential public services will be cut exactly when we need them most. Meanwhile the same big banks that sent the economy to its knees are on track for another year of record bonuses.
Those demonstrating on Wall Street today aren't the only ones that think this is the wrong time for big bonuses. A recent poll commissioned by Bloomberg show more than 70% of Americans think bonuses should be banned and one in six favor a 50% tax on bonuses over $400,000.
The same bank CEOs who created the foreclosure crisis, crashed our economy, and needed hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailouts, have done absolutely nothing to fix the problem they created. And with another round of pending bonuses, they are once again testing the patience of the American public. Whether it be fixing their writing down principal on millions of mortgages or contributing portions of their excessive bonuses to a fund to rebuild America, it's clear they will not do the right thing until we make them. Now is the time to tax the big banks. They should be taxed on their bonuses and they should be taxed every time they initiate foreclose proceedings. In states all across the country we face a revenue crisis because the big banks have not been contributing their share. As a result, each of us is picking up their tab. If they are able to hand out hundreds of millions in executive bonuses, then they can more than afford to do their part to fix what they broke. It's only fair.
If you agree that we've been far too patient with the Bank of Americas and JP Morgan Chases of the world, then you should join Ms. Pilgrim today as she and others take the fight directly to those who started it. You should join the growing chorus that is calling for the nation's big banks to do their part by reducing principal on millions of mortgages and paying their fair share of taxes to rebuild our nation.
Huffington Post Andrew Ross Sorkin