Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

CFPB Catches American Express Breaking the Law

American Express customers will receive $85 million in refunds for deceptive practices

(Flickr/Images_of_Money)
After a slow start, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is beginning to live up to consumer advocates' hopes and Wall Street's fears. On Monday, the new federal regulator announced a steep penalty and fine against American Express for ripping off their customers. Three subsidiaries of the credit-card company will have to refund $85 million to around 250,000 customers. As a result of the investigation—conducted by the CFPB, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions—American Express was fined an additional $27.5 million that will be divvied up between the various regulators' coffers. Investigators found that American Express deceived customers at a number of steps, starting from the initial sale of a credit card. Customers were told they would receive extra points, totaling $300, by signing up for a "Blue Sky" credit card, but the...

Laura Is a Punk Rocker

The lead singer of Against Me! changes gender and challenges the male punk scene.

(Flickr/Kmeron) Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! take the stage in Belgium earlier this summer. O n a sticky night in mid-June, the four members of Against Me! walked onstage at Amos’ South-end, a narrow, two-story club just past the edge of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. Three wore some variation on the plain black T-shirt. Laura Jane Grace, the band’s singer and star, had on skinny pants and a sleeveless black blouse that let the crowd see her lean, muscled arms, which were covered in tattoos. At big arena shows, bands prime the audience with flashing pyrotechnics and a video intro. At dingy punk clubs, the options are limited, though a well-selected walk-on can help. This summer, Against Me! chose the opening snippet from “Gonna Fly Now,” the tune that played while Rocky Balboa trained to fight Apollo Creed. The use of Bill Conti’s trumpet riff—instantly evoking a hokey, inspirational montage—by a pop punk band with self-proclaimed hints of outcast rebellion (even though their...

Killing Dodd-Frank Softly

To block financial regulations, industries and their congressional allies delay, delay, delay—and if necessary, sue.

(Flickr/Emmanuel Huybrechts)
(Flickr/Emmanuel Huybrechts) On August 16, a group of 32 members of Congress—27 Republicans and 5 Democrats—sent a seemingly innocuous request to Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, regarding a new rule on international money transfers. "We urge you to delay the effective date of these rules and to undertake a comprehensive study of their impact before moving forward to avoid irreparable harm to consumers," they wrote. The regulation, set to go into effect in January, will force companies to disclose the full extent of the fees they charge when people send money overseas. While the letter raised concerns about the rule, the members of Congress didn’t ask the CFPB to scrap it; instead, they entreated Cordray to hold off on the rule until January 2015. Simple enough on the surface. But it is part of a broad, systematic effort by the banks and their allies to delay implementation of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the...

Reckless Romney

"I would point out that we have one president at a time and one administration at a time," President Obama said in June, responding to a critical op-ed by a Romney adviser in a German newspaper. "And I think traditionally, the notion has been that America’s political differences end at the water’s edge.” The president was merely restating one of the nation's oldest remaining traditions of bipartisan comity. The op-ed kerfuffle was, of course, absolutely nothing compared to the Romney campaign's latest break from that tradition. On Tuesday night his campaign rushed out a naked attempt to politicize the death of four American diplomats, including a U.S. ambassador, at the country's embassy in Libya. Before all of the dead had been identified, Romney's campaign blasted forth a press release trotting out his familiar—not to mention false—claim that Obama "apologizes for America." By morning it was clear that Romney had blundered badly. Even other Republicans were taking him to task (see...

Grading the Dems' 2016 Arithmetic

(Flickr/NewsHour)
Elizabeth Warren walks offstage after addressing the 2012 Democratic National Convention (Photo by Jared Soares for PBS NewsHour) W ow. That was some humdinger of a speech, huh? Clears up a lot about the upcoming election! No, I’m not talking about Barack Obama's closing address. Sure, the conventions serve as the unofficial kickoff for the final leg of the presidential campaign. But there’s always another story: Who’ll be the nominee next time? Up-and-coming pols have always used conventions as launching pads for future runs; they hobnob in hotel corridors with the Richie Riches who can fund their early ads in Florida. They make small talk with the New Hampshire county chair in the crazy hat. And they aren't always so subtle; many of the 2016 wannabes schlepped over this week to offer presentations to the Iowa delegation . But more than anything, primetime speaking slots on the main arena stage present an unusual opportunity to introduce oneself to a national audience. As everyone...

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