[C.I. note added morning of Feb. 10th. In my notes, I wrongly called Stephanie Mudick "Susan." That was my error and I'm adding this note to Wally's post.]
Wally subbing for Rebecca to offer a report on the hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee where they heard about the illegal practices of JP Morgan Chase. The bank broke the law and harassed and threatened active duty service members.
Despite doing that, despite being caught doing that, despite admitting that they did that, JP Morgan Chase thinks they can return overcharged fees and interest, tack 7.25% interest onto that and call it "settled" is insanity. As Michael Michaud notes, "Words are cheap."
They are especially cheap when they come only after the crimes have been established. Were they not established, JP Morgan Chase would continue to deny as they did for over five years while they broke the laws in targeting Captain Jonathan Rowles and his wife Julia Rowles.
That a bank could pretend to be so ignorant about economics and money in a public hearing may be the most shocking thing about the hearing for me.
JP Morgan Chase sent Susan Mudrick to represent them at the hearing.
According to her, the 7.25% tacked on interest JP Morgan Chase will be paying to those they stole from is more than good enough because "most of the, uh, service members who were impacted by this, uh, are-are not even aware that they overpaid." For that full exchange, see C.I.'s snapshot at the end.
But do you get that? It's okay because the victims weren't aware that they were stolen from? Is anyone else offended by that?
How about her next statement after that sentence, "And in part, that's because the amount they overpaid was not-not material to them."
Again, does she not know the first thing about the economy or money?
If you're overpaying on your mortgate payments, that's money you're not spending somewhere else. For most families -- certainly true of military families -- they have to make the mortgage payment before pretty much everything else. That means recreational spending takes a nosedive. And in today's bad economy, that probably means no recreational spending.
My father died when I was a little kid. My mother, who's a teacher, raised me with help from my grandfather. And I do know what it's like to be a kid when money is tight.
The Rowles were one family. And they had two kids. They know what it's like to go without because you're being forced to pay more, the Rowles know.
I don't care if it's $15 more a month or $70 more a month, that damn well impacts the family. In a tight economy, with huge unemployment, don't you pretend that any family has $15 or even $5 a month extra that you can steal from them.
As US House Rep. Michael Michaud pointed out, ". . . the suicide rate of our American men and women has increased substantially and part of the reason is financial reasons -- where these men and women cannot support their family. And what JP Morgan and, I'm sure, other companies have done is added that burden to these men and women."
That requires penalties, real penalities. And I agree with many that this should include jail time.
US House Rep. Timothy Walz did a strong job in his questioning and managed to get Mudick to admit that the Rowles' calling JP Morgan Chase repeatedly for five years to address this issue might have been speaking to someone in the Phillipines. And the best that Susan Mudick could offer after admitting that was that all service members should always make sure that they were speaking to someone who knew the law.
Have you dealt with call centers?
Ask anyone on the line, "Do you know ___?" Whatever it is, they are going to tell you "yes." The responsibility for calls being dealt with effectively is on JP Morgan Chase.
As Waltz pointed out, "I'm not buying the full responsibility line."
And now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"