Executive Intelligence Review
This article appears in the June 24, 2011 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Toward a Mass Mobilization
To Restore Glass-Steagall

by Nancy Spannaus

[PDF version of this article]

June 21—In the weeks running up to the final vote on the Declaration of Independence back in 1776, the citizens of the American colonies held hundreds of town hall meetings, established new legislative bodies, and passed hundreds of resolutions demanding that their representatives in the Continental Congress act. While today's mobilization among our citizenry for restoring Glass-Steagall, which has been introduced into the House of Representatives as H.R. 1489, has not yet reached that level of intensity, that is the direction where it is headed, and not a moment too soon.

Lyndon LaRouche and his political action committee, LPAC, have been organizing full-bore for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall since the Fall of 2008, and the results of that intensive activity are beginning to show. As it has become increasingly clear that President Obama, the top layers of his Democratic Party, and their budget-slashing Republican partners, offer nothing but accelerating rates of depression and death to the U.S. population, the natural leaders within our nation have gone into action around the only solution on the table, the Glass-Steagall cancellation of the bailout casino, as a means to revive national credit and real economic progress.

The town hall meetings, union meetings, house meetings, political party meetings, and city council meetings which have been addressed by LPAC activists on Glass-Steagall in recent weeks, are too numerous to recount. While only two city councils—those of Elizabeth and Newton, N.J.—have actually passed resolutions for Glass-Steagall, dozens of others have been briefed, some of which have resolutions formally pending. At the same time, state legislators and local union officials are making innumerable phone calls, and sending letters, to their Congressmen, demanding immediate action.

In the halls of Congress, this chorus of pro-Glass-Steagall voices is definitely being heard, but by and large, Congress is dragging its feet. Leaders in the Senate, who fought long and hard last year for Glass-Steagall, have not yet introduced a companion bill to Rep. Marcy Kaptur's (D-Ohio) H.R. 1489. Seventeen Representatives have signed on as cosponsors to H.R. 1489—but many more have promised, and not yet delivered. The question is being dramatically posed: Will Congress be toadies for the British puppets in the Obama Administration, or will lawmakers follow through on their Constitutional oath, and reinstate Glass-Steagall?

Labor in the Lead

By far the most powerful, and grassroots, institution to throw its weight behind Glass-Steagall, in the form of H.R. 1489, is the labor movement. The bill has been endorsed by the International Association of Machinists, and, according to a resolution passed by the New Jersey State Convention of the AFL-CIO on June 14, by the national AFL-CIO as well. According to the New Jersey resolution, which we published in our last issue, Glass-Steagall is the key to restoring a money and banking system that functions in the "public interest." In stating their support for Kaptur's bill, the resolution "urges members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to cosponsor and vote for this bill which will restore the protections of the Glass-Steagall Act."

LPAC members and supporters immediately went into action, taking the New Jersey resolution to other unionists, and union organizations, around the country. In numerous cases, the unionists agreed to immediately take the resolution to their Central Labor Councils for endorsement. Among known endorsements is the Greater Louisville Building and Construction Trades Council, which acted June 16.

Indicative of the response of the labor rank-and-file was the reception given to Diane Sare, one of the six-person Congressional slate initiated by LPAC, on June 20. Upon stopping by the state Machinists convention being held in York, Pa., Sare was immediately asked to address the crowd of 200 unionists.

After a very respectful introduction, Diane identified herself as a member of the LaRouche slate, mentioned that she had been at the rally in Trenton in support of collective bargaining, and then gave a briefing on Glass-Steagall. Some applauded immediately upon hearing that Kaptur had introduced legislation to reinstate it. The crowd was extremely attentive, leaning forward as Sare reported that the arrest of former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was set up to sink the next big bailout, and coincided with the rejection of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's QE3, making it urgent that Glass-Steagall be brought back by July. When Sare said it would be a "$17 trillion charge-back to Wall Street," the room erupted into applause.

Even Democrats Are Cracking

It is no secret that the remaining core of the trade union movement is totally disgusted with President Obama, given what he has not done on the economy, in particular. But the Obama machine does have a stronger grip on the Democratic Party apparatus, especially as it gears up for the next major sop to the President's narcissistic ego, his campaign for re-election.

LPAC members have taken their own resolution for Glass-Steagall to many Democratic Party clubs, many of which have been traditionally hostile to LaRouche. From the reports of the response, it is clear that the resistance to LaRouche's ideas is cracking.

Take the Seattle area, for example, a bastion of liberaldom, where the proverbial "freakout factor" about LPAC's famous mustache poster of Obama, has been very strong. LPAC organizers, led by Congressional candidate Dave Christie, have been attending a number of legislative district meetings, demanding that Congress break with bureaucratic protocol, and immediately pass an emergency resolution of support for H.R. 1489. While none of these resolutions have actually passed, a number of them are still on the agenda.

The following report, from June 21, reflects the character of the change in the environment around this issue, and LaRouche:

"Dave and Siri hit a Democratic legislative district, which was notorious for calling the cops immediately on us years ago, just for stepping into the building. Last night, they nearly passed a Glass-Steagall resolution, until a woman interjected. at the last minute, warning that this was LaRouche-initiated. Interestingly, the chair said that what they were voting on said nothing about LaRouche, but was for Glass-Steagall. 'Please don't confuse the two, even if the LaRouche group is advocating Glass-Steagall.' After she ranted on about the Obama-stache, people grew nervous, even though the mustache had been a topic of side discussions through the evening (one woman saying she didn't like the mustache, but did acknowledge that Hitler invaded nations like Obama is doing in Libya), and decided to table it until next month's meeting.

"The woman who put the resolution forward was a retired banker for Washington Mutual, who had lost her pension in the demise of WaMu. She gave an impassioned speech on Glass-Steagall, and how she had cried in '99 when it was repealed. There were others who also spoke on behalf of the resolution, including the vice chair who commented that [Democratic Rep.] Adam Smith would have voted to repeal Glass-Steagall, to which the treasurer commented that 'maybe we should repeal Adam Smith.' After the meeting, the vice chair ran up to Dave, saying that the Dems and LaRouche should begin a new relationship, especially about Glass-Steagall."

Not a Partisan Issue

Many Republicans are being activated to fight for Glass-Steagall as well, often from the financial services sector. They are joined by members of the so-called Tea Party movement, who remember the roots of that movement in the anti-bailout ferment of 2008. LPAC organizers have sorted the wheat from the chaff, by telling these self-proclaimed Tea Party members that there is no way they can prove their anti-bailout credentials, without supporting Glass-Steagall. (This goes for the Ron Paul types as well.) In western Kentucky, LaRouche organizers have established an organizing committee for Glass-Steagall that includes both trade unionists and Tea Party members—and they are leaving no stone unturned in organizing their fellow-citizens, and confronting their Congressmen.

The following report, filed June 19 by LPAC organizers in the Northeast, gives a lively idea of how Republicans and Democrats alike are having their axioms challenged in the Glass-Steagall fight.

"On Glass-Steagall there were many people coming over to the table, or announcing that they made a point of coming to the table specifically to support Glass-Steagall. This included all sides of the political spectrum, in some ways that were quite amusing.

"At Franklin Park, a conservative waxed eloquently about separating commercial from investment banks, and why Glass-Steagall was essential when we showed him the bill, and discussed our mobilization, but, when he heard the sponsor was Marcy Kaptur (a Democrat) he went ballistic, saying he would never support anything introduced by that bitch (!), and of course it was quite a quandary, because it was the very bill he was promoting!

"At another site in a wealthy area of New Jersey, New Vernon, a radical economist (Jeffersonian) went over each endorser, name by name, saying 'Impossible!' before each: 'It's impossible [for instance] that this bill could be endorsed by Maxine Waters,' and each co-sponsor, one by one. He had refused to give money, but went to his car and brought back a contribution on this question, shocked and amazed."

But Will It Work?

This in-depth educational process of the public has a very definite, immediate target, of course: the passage of Glass-Steagall in the Congress within the few weeks ahead. The question is whether this aroused population can "burn the tailfeathers" of the Congress sufficiently to get this urgent measure in place, before a major blowout of the bankrupt system.

Over the last two weeks, only three more Democrats have signed on as cosponsors—Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Jan Shakowsky (D-ILL), and Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.). (See www.larouchepac.com for the full list.) In the Senate, there are still only promissory notes, although they are interesting ones.

In response to a question from EIR's Bill Jones at a Washington conference June 20, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who joined with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) in 2010 to promote restoring Glass-Steagall, said he would again be cosponsoring a bill to restore Glass-Steagall in the Senate. He said he thought the House bill would pass, but the Senate bill would not. "That's just the way it is," he mused. He thanked the questioner for the interest in the subject, and stressed that he thought the repeal of Glass-Steagall was one of the biggest mistakes Congress ever made.

Here the problem the American people face is writ large. Even those who agree on Glass-Steagall, don't have the "fire-in-the-belly" to fight for it. That fire is going to have to come from a mass movement dedicated to putting itself totally on the line to ram Glass-Steagall through. Just as our forefathers did with the American Declaration of Independence.

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