News From Carl »

Senate Floor Remarks on Security in Afghanistan: 09/17/09

Today we mark a solemn anniversary. Eight years ago this morning, our nation was attacked by terrorist extremists motivated by hatred and bent on destruction. It is always appropriate to remember the shock of that day, the innocent lives lost, and the efforts our nation has made since that day to ensure that Afghanistan, the nation that hosted those terrorists, cannot again become a safe haven for terrorists seeking to attack us. But today is an especially appropriate occasion to take stock of those efforts, and consider how best to continue them.

I recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, where I was joined by my colleagues Senators Jack Reed and Ted Kaufman. The situation in Afghanistan is serious. Security has deteriorated. But if we take the right steps, we can ensure that Afghanistan does not revert to a Taliban-friendly government that could once again provide a safe haven for al Qaeda to terrorize us and the world.

The Obama administration’s new strategy, focusing on securing the Afghan population’s safety and partnering with the Afghan security forces in that effort, is an important start at reversing the situation in Afghanistan. The change in strategy has led our forces, in the words of General McChrystal’s Counterinsurgency Guidance, to “live, eat and train together [with the Afghan security forces], plan and operate together, depend on one another, and hold each other accountable….and treat them as equal partners in success.” The Guidance goes on to say that the success of the Afghan security forces “is our goal.”

To achieve that goal we should increase and accelerate our efforts to support the Afghan security forces in their efforts to become self-sufficient in delivering security to their nation - before we consider whether to increase U.S. combat forces above the levels already planned for the next few months. These steps include increasing the size of the Afghan Army and police much faster than presently planned; providing more trainers for the Afghan Army and police than presently planned; providing them more equipment than presently planned; and working to separate local Taliban fighters from their leaders and attract them to the side of the government as we did in Iraq.

While the security situation in Afghanistan has worsened, we still have important advantages there. The Afghan people hate the Taliban. Public opinion polls show support for the Taliban at about 5%. In addition, the Afghan army is highly motivated and its troops are proven fighters.

Despite those advantages, we face significant challenges. General McChrystal believes, and I agree, that we need to regain the initiative and create a momentum towards success. General McChrystal worries, and rightly so, about the perception that we have lost that initiative, and the impact of that perception on the Afghan people, their government, al Qaeda and the Taliban. By contrast, if we can dispel that perception, we have a chance to convince local and lower-level Taliban fighters to lay down their arms and rejoin Afghan society.

I believe the most effective way to retake the initiative in Afghanistan is with a series of steps to ensure that Afghanistan’s army and police have the manpower, equipment and support to secure their own nation.

First, we should increase troop levels for the Afghan army and police faster than currently planned. There are approximately 90,000 troops in the Afghan army now, and that number is scheduled to go up to 134,000 by October of 2010. The Afghan police are scheduled to reach a level of 82,000 by the same time. For a long time, many of us have urged the establishment of a goal of 240,000 Afghan troops and 160,000 Afghan police by 2013. The Afghan Minister of Defense has strongly supported those numbers. It now appears that our government and the Afghan government are prepared to accept those goals. But the need for additional Afghan forces is urgent. I believe it both possible and essential to advance those goals by a year, to 2012.

Our own military in Afghanistan has repeatedly pointed to a need for more Afghan forces. In one sector of Helmand province we visited last week, our Marines outnumbered Afghan soldiers by 5 to one. A Marine Company commander in Helmand province told the New York Times in July that a lack of Afghan troops “is absolutely our Achilles heel.”

What do we need to do to increase the size of the Afghan army and police? According to Afghan Defense Minister Wardak, there is no lack of Afghan manpower; we’ve been assured it is available.

But we will need significantly more trainers. We asked General Formica, who is in charge of the American effort to train Afghan security forces, whether such an increase is possible. He indicated he would make an assessment of what would be necessary in order to meet the earlier timetable. In the meantime, we should also press our NATO allies with much greater forcefulness to provide more trainers. If our NATO allies are not going to come through with the combat forces they have pledged, at least they could provide additional trainers.

Larger Afghan security forces will also require more mid-level Afghan officers. In addition to supporting efforts to graduate more Afghan officers from army academies, we should consider the recommendation of Defense Minister Wardak that previous mid-level officers who fought the war against the Soviets return to service on an interim basis. Minister Wardak emphasized that those men are well qualified and well motivated, and while they may not be trained in the most current tactics, they nonetheless could temporarily meet the need of the enlarged army while the new group of officers is trained. A larger Afghan force will need supporting infrastructure, such a barracks. While the available infrastructure may not be the most modern, it is adequate and exists in sufficient amounts.

Larger Afghan security forces will require additional equipment. There must be a major effort to transfer a significant amount of the equipment that is coming out of Iraq to the Afghan army and police. Such a significant commitment to equip the Afghan security forces would also help demonstrate U.S. determination to take the initiative and create momentum in the right direction. There is an enormous amount of equipment coming out of Iraq; our military is calling it one of the greatest transfers of military goods in the world’s history. A significant part of it could be transferred to the Afghan forces, increasing their capability without weakening our own readiness. And yet there does not seem to be that kind of a crash effort in place to do that. We need to obtain on an urgent basis a list of the basic equipment needs of the Afghan forces and a list of how those needs could be met in a major program to transfer equipment leaving Iraq.

Rapidly expanding Afghanistan’s military and police forces would address one of the major problems and risks we now face there. General McChrystal told us he worries that waiting until 2013 for a larger Afghan force creates a gap in capabilities that brings significant risk of failure. But by accelerating the training and equipping of Afghan forces by a year, we address his concern. Depending on additional capability from Afghan, rather than U.S., forces, also addresses a major problem of public perception in Afghanistan. The larger our own military footprint there, the more our enemies can seek to drive a wedge between us and the Afghan population, spreading the falsehood that we seek to dominate a Muslim nation.

Finally, we should make a concerted effort to separate the local Taliban from their leaders. In Iraq, large numbers of young Iraqis who had been attacking us switched over to our side and became the “Sons of Iraq.” They were drawn in part by the promise of jobs and amnesty for past attacks, and in part by the recognition that the status quo was creating horrific violence in their own communities. In their own interests and the interests of their nation, they switched sides and became a positive force.

That same prospect exists in Afghanistan. Afghan leaders and our military say that local Taliban fighters are motivated largely by the need for a job or loyalty to the local leader who pays them and not by ideology or religious zeal. They believe an effort to attract these fighters to the government’s side could succeed, if they are offered security for themselves and their families, and if there is no penalty for previous activity against us.

General McChrystal himself has emphasized the potential of such re-integration to accomplish the same result as was achieved in Iraq. Here is what General McChrystal said on July 28th:

“Most of the fighters we see in Afghanistan are Afghans, some with foreign cadre with them. But most we don’t see are deeply ideological or even politically motivated; most are operating for pay; some are under a commander’s charismatic leadership; some are frustrated with local leaders. So I believe there is significant potential to go after what I would call mid- and low-level Taliban fighters and leaders and offer them re-integration into Afghanistan under the constitution.”

But this “game changing” possibility was apparently not factored into General McChrystal’s assessment. There is no plan yet to put in place a Sons of Iraq approach in Afghanistan. It is urgent that we lay out the steps that need to be taken to involve local and national Afghan leaders in that effort. They alone can accomplish this crucial job, but first we and our Afghan allies must draft such a plan on an urgent basis. And the potential positive impact of such a plan should be taken into account as we consider the need for any additional U.S. military resources.

Afghanistan’s people are grateful for our aid, but also eager to assume responsibility for their future. In a tiny village in Helmand Province, we were invited to meet with the village elders at their council meeting, their shura. One hundred or so men sat on the floor and chatted with us about their future and their country’s future. When asked how long the United States should stay, one elder said: “Until the moment that you make our security forces self-sufficient. Then you will be welcome to visit us, not as soldiers but as guests.”

Helping Afghanistan achieve self-sufficiency in their security is everybody’s goal. On that there is little difference of opinion, in Afghanistan’s village councils or in the corridors of this Capitol.

Can we help Afghanistan reach self-sufficiency in security fast enough? Can we get there in a way that regains the initiative and creates the momentum we need? Can we encourage those lower level Taliban to abandon an insurgency headed by terrorists whose fanaticism they don’t share?

I believe we can, by supporting a far more rapid growth in the Afghan Army and police; by providing more trainers more quickly; by a rapid infusion to Afghan units of equipment no longer needed in Iraq; and by rapidly adopting a plan for the re-integration of lower level Taliban fighters into Afghan society. In other words, we need a surge of Afghan security forces.

Our support of their surge will show our commitment to the success of a mission that is clearly in our national security interest, without creating a bigger U.S. military footprint that provides propaganda fodder for the Taliban.

I believe that taking those steps on an urgent basis, while completing the previously planned and announced increase in U.S. combat forces, provides the best chance of success for our mission: preventing Afghanistan from again being run by a Taliban government which harbors and supports Al-Qaeda, whose goal is to inflict additional catastrophic attacks on the United States and the world. And we should implement these steps before considering an increase in U.S. ground combat forces beyond what is already planned by the end of this year.

Senator Levin’s Address to the Foreign Policy Association: 05/27/09


My thanks to the Foreign Policy Association for inviting me to be here tonight. It is an honor to speak to the members of an organization who have added so much to our nation’s foreign policy debate over the years.

In thinking about how I might try to live up to that tradition, I set out to sum up lessons learned from the war in Iraq and how we’re back on track, focusing on the right enemy – al Qaeda and the Taliban – in the right place – Afghanistan and Pakistan. I had planned to lay before you tonight a vision of a world inspired by a young American president who summons us to look beyond party and politics, to work together here at home, and to engage our allies around the world to confront the threat of religious extremists preaching fanatic intolerance. The power of President Obama’s message – dramatized in Prague and Berlin when multitudes showed up to cheer him – holds the promise of regaining the good will of people around the world. The President’s decision to end torture, to close Guantanamo, to talk to our enemies, and to reduce the threat of nuclear annihilation shows the world that America is willing not only to lead – but to listen.

But then last week, a voice from the recent past reemerged, claiming that America can do what we please, preaching unilateralism again, and embracing the arrogance that for too many years alienated our friends and set back efforts to achieve common goals. Former Vice President Cheney’s world view, which so dominated the Bush years and which so dishonored our nation, gained a little traction last week – enough to persuade me to address it head on here tonight.

I do so as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which recently completed an eighteen month investigation into the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and produced a 200 page bipartisan report which gives the lie to Mr. Cheney’s claims. I do so because if the abusive interrogation techniques that he champions – the face of which were the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib – if they are once more seen as representative of America, our security will be severely set back.

When former Vice President Cheney said last week that what happened at Abu Ghraib was the work of “a few sadistic prison guards” acting on their own, he bore false witness. And when he said last week there was no link between the techniques used at Abu Ghraib and those approved for use in the CIA’s secret prisons, he again strayed from the truth. The seeds of Abu Ghraib’s rotten fruit were sown by civilians at the highest levels of our government.

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Senator Levin’s Address to The Michigan Democratic Party’s 2009 Jefferson - Jackson Day Dinner: 04/25/09

Thank you Senator Stabenow! Senator Stabenow’s passion for her work in the Senate is second to none. And now, thanks to what all of you did since we were here last year, we now have a great leader in the White House to work with and bigger Democratic majorities that Michigan Democrats helped elect last year. We are working with President Obama to bring change to the world. And the world the Bush administration left behind sure as heck needs changing.

Think about what the Bush administration left us:

  • They left skyrocketing unemployment.
  • They left more Americans without health insurance, including uninsured children.
  • They left record home foreclosures.
  • They left sky high national debt.
  • They left a foreign policy in shambles.
  • And they left a world America was no longer a moral leader.

Well, because of your work last year, we’ve been able to start to clean up that mess. Look what Congress and the President have accomplished just in the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

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Senate Floor Statement on Great Lakes Water Compact: 07/23/08

In 1831, the great chronicler of early America, Alexis de Tocqueville, explored the Great Lakes. As he passed through Lake Huron, he observed of the empty, undeveloped expanse: “This lake without sails, this shore which does not yet show any trace of the passage of man, this eternal forest which borders it; all that, I assure you, is not grand in poetry only; it’s the most extraordinary spectacle that I have seen in my life.” (more…)

Opening Statement of Senator Carl Levin U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Hearing: Tax Haven Banks and U.S. Tax Compliance: 07/17/08

About 50 tax havens operate in the world today. Their twin hallmarks are secrecy and tax avoidance. Some tax havens are little known places like Andorra and Vanuatu that few Americans have heard of. Others, like Switzerland and Liechtenstein, are notorious for operating behind an iron ring of secrecy. Billions and billions of dollars worth of U.S. assets find their way into these secrecy tax havens, aided by banks, trust companies, accountants, lawyers, and others. Each year, the United States Treasury loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues from offshore tax abuses. Tax havens are engaged in economic warfare against the United States and honest, hardworking American taxpayers. (more…)

Senator Carl Levin’s Floor Statement on the FISA Ammendments: 07/08/08

Mr. President, Title II of this bill would authorize retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who collected intelligence information inside the United States in defiance of the clear requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as it was then on the books. The argument has been made that we must provide such immunity, because these telecommunications companies responded to requests from the government in a time of great uncertainty after the events of September 11, 2001. (more…)

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing: The Origins of Aggressive Interrogation Techniques: 06/17/08

Today’s hearing will focus on the origins of aggressive interrogation techniques used against detainees in U.S. custody. We have three panels of witnesses today and I want to thank them for their willingness to voluntarily appear before the Committee. (more…)

Alpena News Editorial: “Levin leaves lasting impression on Alpena”: 06/16/08

On June 16, 2008, the Alpena News wrote the editorial “Levin leaves lasting impression on Alpena.”

Here is an excerpt: “As historians write today’s history, one name that should forever be remembered as playing a significant role in this community’s growth is that of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. While Levin is elected to represent constituents across Michigan, it could well be argued he holds a special affinity to the constituents of Northeast Michigan.

To say Levin has been good to Alpena is not even fair and doesn’t begin to justify the senator’s contributions. Levin hasn’t been good — he’s been fantastic to and for Alpena.”

To read the full article, visit: http://www.thealpenanews.com/page/content.detail/id/501868.html

Senate Floor Statement on Oil and Gasoline Prices: 06/12/08

Mr. President, day after day record-high oil and gasoline prices are causing immense harm to millions of American consumers and businesses. Unless something is done to make energy more affordable, these record-high prices will continue to damage our economy, increasing the prices of transportation, food, manufacturing and everything in between. Skyrocketing energy prices are a threat to our economic and national security, and the time is long past for action. (more…)

Senator Carl Levin Files for Re-Election: 05/12/08

Volunteers collect the maximum allowed 30,000 signatures from all 83 counties to place Levin on ballot

SOUTHFIELD - Senator Carl Levin filed for re-election to the U.S. Senate today by submitting 30,000 signatures from all 83 Michigan counties to the Bureau of Elections in Lansing. Michigan law requires all U.S. Senate candidates from the two major parties to file a minimum of 15,000 signatures, and a maximum of 30,000 signatures, from registered Michigan voters in order for the candidate’s name to appear on the ballot.

“I am proud that these signatures were collected with a grassroots, all-volunteer effort in every county in Michigan,” said Senator Levin. “The people of Michigan have given me the wonderful privilege of serving our state and our country, and I appreciate the work of thousands of volunteers throughout the state to collect signatures and give me the opportunity to continue that service.”

Highlights of Senator Levin’s nominating petition gathering effort:

  • Legal maximum of 30,000 signatures were submitted.
  • Signatures from all 83 of Michigan’s counties.
  • Grassroots, all-volunteer effort.
  • Over 2,500 volunteers circulated petitions on behalf of Senator Levin.

“Michigan and the nation face enormous challenges, and the 2008 election will be important in setting our course to meet those challenges,” Levin said. “Creating jobs, fighting for manufacturing, making affordable health care available to all Americans, ending the speculation and gouging which have helped drive up gas prices, ending the war in Iraq and restoring America’s image in the world are some of the major ones.”


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Paid for by Friends of Senator Carl Levin

Statement of Senator Carl Levin on Oil and Gasoline Prices: 05/12/08

Mr. President, day after day record-high oil and gasoline prices are hurting millions of American consumers and businesses. Unless something is done to make energy more affordable, the record-high prices will continue to reverberate throughout our economy, increasing the prices of transportation, food, manufacturing and everything in between. Skyrocketing energy prices are a threat to our economic and national security, and the time is long past for action.

(more…)

Senator Carl Levin Testimony on Unfair Credit Card Practices and the Need for a Legislative Remedy: 04/17/08

Before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit

Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Biggert, and Members of the Subcommittee, I thank you for the opportunity to testify today and add to your legislative record a description of some of the work on unfair credit card practices that has been conducted in the other body, by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair. I would also like to commend this Subcommittee and the full Financial Services Committee for the important work you have been doing to expose credit card abuses. The Maloney-Frank bill you are considering today, H.R. 5244, includes valuable provisions which would alleviate many of the credit card abuses hurting American families. It’s impressive that the bill already has 95 cosponsors. (more…)

Senator Carl Levin on The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008: 04/10/08

The progress this bill represents is overdue. The foreclosure crisis is dire, and there is much still to be done. But this bill offers some immediate help. (more…)

Opening Statement of Senator Carl Levin, Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Situation in Iraq with Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus: 04/08/08

Welcome General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Thank you for joining us today, and thank you for your service to our nation. Please express our deep gratitude to the brave men and women serving in Iraq both in our armed forces and in the civilian agencies of our government. (more…)

Senator Carl Levin: The $100 Billion Lineup: 04/01/08

Tax cheats come in all shapes and sizes, so it would be hard to pick out of a lineup the 100 Americans whom the IRS suspects of hiding funds in Liechtenstein, a tiny Alpine country known for opening bank accounts and accepting large deposits of funds with few questions asked. (more…)

NYT Editorial: Plastic Card Tricks: 03/29/08

Americans are struggling with a very rocky economy while they are also holding almost $1 trillion in credit card debt. In most cases, those cards provide a little flexibility with the monthly bills. But an increasing number of people are defaulting because of the “tricks and traps” — soaring interest rates and hidden fees — in the credit card business. (more…)

New York Times Op-Ed on Why Michigan Is Fighting: 03/19/08

By Senator Carl Levin and DNC Member Debbie Dingell

POLITICAL leaders in Michigan and elsewhere have long questioned the stranglehold Iowa and New Hampshire have on the presidential nominating process. In most election years, the candidates seem to spend more time in those two states than in all the others put together. The early states usually pick the party nominees, leaving the large majority of states with little influence in this critical national decision. (more…)

Levin, Warner Ask GAO to Review Iraqi Oil Revenues and Reconstruction Funding: 03/07/08

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and senior Committee Member John Warner, R-Va., today asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review Iraqi oil revenues and determine how much money the Iraqi government has contributed to security and reconstruction efforts in the country. The senators voice concern that the Iraqi government has tremendous resources sitting in banks around the world while not doing nearly enough to improve the quality of life of Iraqi citizens. (more…)

Senate Floor Statement on the Army Field Manual Provision in the Intelligence Authorization Conference Report: 02/13/08

I urge my colleagues to support the Intelligence Authorization conference report which includes a requirement that all government agencies, including the CIA, comply with the Army Field Manual on Interrogations in the treatment and interrogation of detainees. (more…)

Statement of Senator Carl Levin on the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 (S. 2248): 02/13/08

Mr. President, last year Congress passed a temporary bill with a six month time limit that would give us the opportunity to carry out a thorough, thoughtful examination of how to utilize complicated new technologies in the surveillance of suspected terrorists without invading the privacy of innocent Americans. In the months since we passed that temporary act, we have worked in a bipartisan manner to consider the best course forward for permanent changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Despite the enormous complexity of these issues, we reached a bipartisan consensus on the key provisions contained in Title I of the bill we are considering today. (more…)

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News About Carl »

Hometownlife.com - Levin: Working 24/7 on Michigan issues: 05/31/09

Original Story

By LeAnne Rogers
OBSERVER STAFF WRITER

Not surprisingly, Sen. Carl Levin is working full time on issues relating to the biggest problem facing Michigan.

“The thing that is going on 24/7 is the auto industry. Everyone in the Michigan, Ohio and Indiana delegations — the auto states, we call them — is so involved, I can’t say,” said the Michigan Democrat, who spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Garden City Kiwanis Club.

The most important accomplishment of the delegation has been giving President Barack Obama and his administration a better understanding on the importance of the auto industry and manufacturing overall, Levin said.

“My brother and I worked in auto plants. We take it personally when colleagues have a negative stereotype about the auto industry,” said Levin. “No other country in the world would allow its auto industry to go down. In Japan, auto workers are literally on the government payroll — they won’t let the industry go with this worldwide economic slump.”

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Roll Call: CongressNow Overview - Levin Is Key Ally for Obama’s Reform Efforts: 05/21/09

By Eugene Mulero
CongressNow Staff
May 4, 2009

Original story

Ask most lawmakers and they will tell you that the political elements are aligned this Congress for military acquisition reform.

This year, both chambers rolled out legislation to overhaul how the Pentagon buys major weapons, and that is due in large part to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who has emerged as a key ally to President Barack Obama on military matters.

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Wall Street Journal: U.S. Pushes for Crackdown on Tax Havens: 03/05/09

By EVAN PEREZ

Fresh off a U.S. victory over Swiss bank UBS AG, which admitted in a recent plea deal with the Justice Department that it aided tax evasion by wealthy American clients, Congress and the White House are trying to press a wider crackdown on the lucrative tax haven business.

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Washington Post: New Post Proposed at Pentagon: 03/05/09

Director Would Review Spending on U.S. Weapon Systems

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2009; Page D02

A bill to end cost overruns in major weapons systems would create a powerful new Pentagon position — director of independent cost assessments — to review cost analyses and estimates, separately from the military branch requesting the program.
(more…)

Wall Street Journal - Legislators Seek Hedge-Fund Disclosure: 02/02/09

Original Story

By JENNY STRASBURG

A bill proposed last week to regulate hedge funds in the U.S. could require them to start talking more — including about their investors.

The Hedge Fund Transparency Act was introduced by Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, and Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. One part of the bill that caused a buzz among hedge-fund managers and lawyers over the weekend is a new requirement that hedge-fund investors’ names be routinely and publicly disclosed.

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New York Times - Senators Bid To Regulate Hedge Funds: 01/30/09

Original Story

By STEPHEN LABATON

Two senior senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose government oversight of hedge funds.

The legislation by Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, was filed as the Obama administration was preparing a broader legislative overhaul of the regulatory system, including an effort to more tightly regulate hedge funds.

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Detroit News: Sen. Levin: Oil companies ‘getting away with murder’: 05/09/08

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Major oil companies “are getting away with murder” and “gouging” consumers as the price of oil continues to soar, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin said at a press conference today. (more…)

Levin slams $500M Iraq request: 04/10/08

Senate armed services panel chair to ask Pentagon today to drop funds bid for rebuilding of police stations. (more…)

NYT Editorial: Plastic Card Tricks: 03/29/08

Americans are struggling with a very rocky economy while they are also holding almost $1 trillion in credit card debt. In most cases, those cards provide a little flexibility with the monthly bills. But an increasing number of people are defaulting because of the “tricks and traps” — soaring interest rates and hidden fees — in the credit card business. (more…)

Levin on foreclosures: Help is on the way: 02/20/08

By Barrie Barber, The Saginaw News, February 20, 2008

In the midst of the worst foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says federal lawmakers are looking for answers.

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Senator sees credit card action this year: 02/11/08

By John Poirier, Reuters, 02/08/2008
Congress is likely to move toward final legislation this year to reform often-criticized marketing and billing practices by credit card companies, a senior U.S. lawmaker said on Friday.

(more…)

U.S. lawmaker targets offshore tax evaders: 02/11/08

By Kevin Drawbaugh, Reuters, 02/08/2008

Wealthy Americans dodge more than $100 billion a year in taxes by hiding assets in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens, said a senior lawmaker on Friday who is trying to put a stop to it. (more…)

USA TODAY - Our view on charge cards: 12/12/07

Credit issuers jack up rates, even if you pay on time 

USA Today Editorial, Dec. 11, 2007

Retroactive ‘risk-based’ pricing is unfair; Congress should outlaw it.

 

Bonnie Rushing, a paralegal in Naples, Fla., sounds like just the sort of customer any bank would want to cultivate. She told Congress last week that she has never missed or even been late on her credit card payments, despite a financial setback last year. (more…)

Minimum due: Fairness: 12/11/07

Credit card companies must end deceptive practices or face tighter regulation

Detroit Free Press, December 9, 2007

Editorial

It was not easy for Janet Hard to air her family’s financial laundry in the very public setting of a U.S. Senate hearing last week. But the Freeland, Mich., woman helped expose one of the more onerous and underpublicized practices of credit card companies.

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Credit card users deserve prompt notice of rate hikes: 12/11/07

The Detroit News, Tuesday, December 11, 2007Editorial

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin has doggedly uncovered a slew of unfair and suspect practices in the credit card industry. The Michigan Democrat wants satisfactory responses from banks but is also ready with tougher consumer protection laws if needed.

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Forbes: Congress Vs. Credit Cards: 12/04/07

Forbes.com, Brian Wingfield, 12.04.07, 6:00 AM ET

Ho ho ho. Just in time for the holiday spending season, members of Congress are skewering credit card companies for pushing allegedly abusive business practices on unwitting customers.

Tuesday, a panel led by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., will haul in executives from Discover, Bank of America and Capital One Financial . The lawmakers want to know why they raise customers’ interest rates when those customers have a solid payment history.

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New York Times endorses Carl’s credit card reform: 08/03/07

In an editorial published this week, The New York Times highlighted the predatory and deceitful practices that have become commonplace in the banking and credit card industries.

The editorial specifically commended and endorsed Senator Levin’s legislation to end these unfair practices.

A bill introduced by Senator Levin would limit “penalty” interest rates to an additional 7 percent above the previous rate. It would also prohibit retroactive penalties and double cycle billing, and it would limit the amount of fees companies could charge customers who exceed their credit limit.

Passing the Levin bill would be a good start. But Congress needs a comprehensive approach to this problem. Lawmakers need to ban deceptive card offers outright, strengthen federal oversight and toughen truth-in-lending laws.

Meanwhile, American consumers should think long and hard before they accept credit card offers that are too good to be true.

Click here to read the full editorial.

Charge into reform of credit card fees: 03/07/07

Detroit Free Press

While he gets most of his attention as one of the chief critics of the conduct of the war in Iraq, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin plunges today into a domestic issue of enormous impact for Americans: abusive practices by credit card companies.

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Levin: Lawmakers will work to force Bush to change course on Iraq: 02/25/07

By Hope Yen
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Democratic-controlled Congress not to interfere in the conduct of the Iraq war and suggested President Bush would defy troop withdrawal legislation.

But Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said lawmakers would step up efforts to force Bush to change course. “The president needs a check and a balance,” said Levin, D-Mich. (more…)

Levin: Let’s focus on plight of wounded Iraq vets: 02/25/07

Gordon Trowbridge
Detroit News

WASHINGTON — Senator Carl Levin said today that the nation needs “a surge of concern” for wounded Iraq veterans, after media reports found decrepit conditions and bureaucratic red tape interfering with the care of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (more…)

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