Friday morning, over fifty marchers organized by TakeAction Minnesota and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy demonstrated in front of Wells Fargo Bank to protest outrageous end-of-year bonuses and to tell Big Banks to get their priorities straight by creating jobs and helping families stay in their homes instead of dispersing bonus money to the super-rich.
Grace Bowman, an unemployed data analyst from Minneapolis recently travelled to Washington, D.C. as part of a hundred person delegation to “Take Back the Capitol” — an event designed to turn politicians’ attention to the needs of the 99%. “Money is fungible,” Bowman said. “The money big banks spend on huge bonuses and give to politicians and lobbyists could be spent helping underwater homeowners instead.”
Despite a down economy and millions out of work, the nation’s largest banks are getting ready to hand out end-of-year bonus checks to their CEOs, CFOs and other top executives. And this year, total bonuses and compensation are expected to be even higher than last year.
Eleven demonstrators held signs, one-per-person, which spelled out $141,083,671.00 on one side, the total amount of bonus and compensation money the top five Wells Fargo executives received in 2008, 2009, and 2010, the three years immediately following the the crash. On the reverse side, the signs spelled out what this money could be better spent on: Jobs, Social Security, Mortgage Reductions.
“I hear that John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo makes eighty-five hundred dollars an hour. With that amount of money here in Minneapolis we could feed a thousand people for a month, house eight families, and fund a safe-zone after school program,” said Vaughn Lodge, of the American Indian movement, who also travelled to D.C. to lobby and protest for the 99% agenda.
The New Bottom Line coalition estimates that the seven largest U.S. banks could write down the principal of underwater mortgages at a one-year cost of seventy-one billion which would save underwater families and average of five-hundred and forty-three dollars per month, pumping billions into the economy and creating up to one million jobs. Those at Friday’s demonstration claim Big Banks have the money but not the will to do what will help the economy.
Research on U.S. Bank indicates significant amounts of money spent by the bank’s PAC on Minnesota’s congressional delegation in the last two election cycles, including $34,800 to Republican members and $30,539 to Democrats in 2008 and 2010. Representative Erik Paulsen, who represents Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, led with $12,000 in PAC contributions.
“It’s a vicious cycle for working people. Big Banks and Big Finance lavish fat bonus checks on their top executives who turn around and hand out big donations to their favorite politicians, the ones that maintain their tax breaks and loopholes,” said Chris Conry, an organizer with TakeAction Minnesota. “The 1% continue to get richer while the 99% continue to suffer unemployment and the other effects of an economy these banks wrecked.”
Read more coverage at City Pages.