HOW NOT TO HONOR OUR TROOPS: Obama, Daley, Chase and the Military

This week, NBC News ran an important report about improprieties at a particularly well-connected bank. According to NBC, JP Morgan Chase has been forced by a lawsuit to admit that it has been overcharging thousands of military families for their mortgages—and had improperly foreclosed on more than a dozen such families.

Now, news that a bank overcharges for mortgages would seem these days to be a case of “been there, done that.” But Americans don’t like their military families being victimized. And not, especially, when some of the victims are off fighting in Afghanistan. So NBC has a story.

You can watch it here. As NBC says on its website,

The admissions are an outgrowth of a lawsuit filed by Marine Capt. Jonathan Rowles. Rowles is the backseat pilot of an F/A 18 Delta fighter jet and has served the nation as a Marine for five years. He and his wife, Julia, say they’ve been battling Chase almost that long.

…A Chase official told NBC News that some 4,000 troops may have been overcharged. What’s more, the bank discovered it improperly foreclosed on the homes of 14 military families….

…Chase took a few months to lower Rowles’ rate, overcharging the family, Rowles says, by as much as $900 a month. In the fall of 2006, Chase finally began charging Rowles the correct 6 percent rate. For the next year or so, everything went relatively smoothly.

…two years ago, the Rowles family says, Chase began hitting them with collection calls that escalated to sometimes three a day, claiming they owed as much as $15,000.

“Saturday, Sundays, middle of the night. It did not matter if it was a holiday,” Julia said. “Collection calls at 3 in the morning. He would state, “I’m in California. I’m stationed here in  Miramar. It’s 3 in the morning. What are you doing calling me?” “Well, sir, this is an attempt to collect a debt.”

She said they threatened to take the house and report the family to a credit agency, even though the Rowles family didn’t owe the bank anything and never missed a payment.

It’s interesting to consider that one of JP Morgan Chase’s top officials was until just days ago William Daley. Now, however, he’s getting settled as Obama’s new chief of staff. It would be nice if NBC asked Daley, who had $7.6 million worth of Chase stock at last count, what he thinks of these practices as a way of enhancing the bank’s bottom line. Or about how tough he thinks Obama should get with outfits like Chase, which did rather nicely under the bailout.

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  • cjf

    This is what comes of centralization defeating diversification. “Never put all your eggs in one basket” is in opposition to centralized, uniform, political and corporate behavior.
    The result is a lack of options. Notice how many corporate men are also government men? The military become like any other of their employees.

  • exploitedtimes

    It makes me sick. It takes a lot of class to hassle a serviceman’s family in the middle of the night for fantasy debts. It’s not enough to blindly serve in a war based on pure lies and simultaneously enrich those who would outsource phone harrassment, this guy also gets to serve the people who rip him off. Not much difference between US foreign and domestic policy these days; bleed ’em within, bleed ’em without. Sad.

  • Harold Taggart

    In a democracy, the economy serves the people. In America, the serve the economy and corporations just as the peasantry serve the nobility. Whether the peasants are worker ants or soldier ants, they are expected to give everything to the nobility.

  • Robert Beal

    It’s the Third Way or the highway.

    The Washington-based think tank of the same name as the political strategy Third Way obscures its corporatism by labeling itself “progressive.”

    The conflation of “centrist” and “progressive” is as critical to obscuring corporate-statism as is anti-government rhetoric.

    The Third Way think tank former board member financier William Daley, now Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, was a lead player in the passage of the precedent-setting supranational arrangement known as the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), against which were arrayed unionists, environmentalists, and activists in civil liberties, economic justice, human rights, etc.

    In the United States, populists from the right-wing, some libertarians, and the now-radical left see the Third Way as the underpinning of corporate-statism, in which both of the two dominant parties serve the global capitalist agenda, as evidenced by that country’s historic levels of wealth inequality and increasing household/community insecurity.

    Public interest advocates have not taken it upon themselves to publically deconstruct the Third Way. Given the fast-breaking campaign against KORUS FTA, this might be a good time to pick this low-hanging fruit.

    The Third Way think tank cloaks itself in the “progressive” mantle:

    The Progressive Policy Institute hews to the Third Way political strategy:

    The Center for American Progress released a report, “A Focus on Competitiveness: Restructuring Policymaking for Results . . . Bill Daley, a panelist at the event and the current chief of staff to President Obama, said that “to address … the difficult issues, whether it’s taxes, entitlements, spending, trade … there’s got to be a better focus by government” – by which he means focusing the government on the corporate global agenda.

    • Soularddave

      They’ve certainly captured the airwaves by beating their drums on NPR. I guess this will assure “public” radio will continue to be funded by Congress.

  • Russ Baker

    Robert Beal–fascinating stuff on Third Way. Thanks for it! Russ

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