While speaking at Maumee Bay State Park, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur was asked what she thinks of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Kaptur turned the question around, asking the guests if they were satisfied with the way both Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney were running their campaigns.
She admitted she was not, suggesting that the amount of money both candidates have spent could have been better served if donated to food banks.
|U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur
“They are almost like performers, and I don’t think it contributes to the dialogue like we are having right here. It is dissatisfying to the American people and they are spending all this money,” Kaptur said. “Ohioans should have questions answered about Ohio, rather than listening to all these canned speeches both sides give.
“I feel like you do — I don’t feel satisfied. I’m a member of the House — I’m at ground level. I go out to my district, I go out to my people, I try to learn from them, I try to reflect, but national campaigns always seem hard to access.”
After Kaptur explained how the St. Lawrence Seaway receives a “postage stamp” share of funding compared to the Mississippi River System for transportation funding at a federal level, she was asked by Oregon city administrator Mike Beazley if Ohio could use its “swing status” to get more money.
Kaptur responded by giving examples of how national financial institutions and other parts of the country leverage to get political capital.
“I think the national, influential, sort of big corporations at the national level, which are now heavily financial corporations, now control about 70 percent of the wealth of this country. Prior to the financial crisis, they controlled 40 percent,” Kaptur said.
She mentioned Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Chase City Group, Wells-Fargo, Morgan-Stanley and Goldman-Sachs. When she asked how many guests were making mortgage payments, car payments, student-loan payments, or a credit card payment to any of these six institutions, a large majority of those in the room held their hands up.
“What’s interesting about this is that it moves the capital out of our area,” Kaptur said. “When you think about where people are employed, what happens with their funds, our country is being very ‘hierarchally’ arranged from a financial standpoint. Manufacturing has become a smaller and smaller share of our economy and financial companies have spread and grown.
“All finance companies do is trade in your wealth — the wealth you create in places like Oregon, Toledo, and Northwestern Ohio. What’s gone on is as these companies become more powerful, they have exerted even more political power and we feel that heavily at the federal level, I can tell you. The question is, ‘How do we restore some balance?’ The act I have proposed, Wall Street hates it, but I know it is right.
“I have another bill that would give each Federal Reserve region equal power because New York has this primacy in the system, and every Fed chairman, including the latest one, hates my bill. That’s good, though. Because it would say that the Cleveland Fed and all of the businesses in our region are just as important as New York, and they don’t like it.
“We think of the system we’ve created to finance enterprise, and it’s a very lopsided system. It creates great disadvantages down here. These New York financial institutions are extremely powerful from an economic standpoint and from a financial standpoint. We in business have to realize the playing field that we are in financially — how do we just get them on equal or on better footing than they are today? There are just so many interests out there today — you just can’t understand the complexity.”
She is supporting a bill that would separate what she calls “prudent banking” from speculation and says she has bi-partisan co-sponsorship.
“There are deep worries from some members of Congress about where we are headed economically because of the way we are financially structured,” Kaptur said. “Our local banks and our local ability to accumulate capital are very constrained.”
For example, a business association in Cleveland boasted to her that Goldman-Sachs offered to sign a deal to help finance 10,000 new businesses in the area.
“I said, ‘Well, let’s talk about that,” Kaptur said. “When you finally sign the arrangements who is going to have an ‘A’ position versus a ‘B’ position? Or is Goldman just going to drain more money out of Cleveland and take it somewhere else? Who is structuring your deal so that the real wealth remains with those who actually did the invention that did the work? And, I think I got them to think, at least I hope I have, about how they are going to structure these arrangements.”