The death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore is not just a story of police brutality or the lack of socioeconomic mobility for the urban poor. It’s also a story of how deregulation allowed corporate banks to strip middle-class families of their financial stability and walk away, leaving behind payday lenders and check-cashing stores to plunder low-income and minority communities.
To better understand and communicate that story, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Policy, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took their Middle Class Prosperity Project to Baltimore on Monday. It was the latest in a series of forums that started in February to focus “congressional and public attention on challenges faced by the middle class.”
Baltimore was hit especially hard by the 2008 economic collapse. In 2008, 3,909 foreclosureswere filed in the city of Baltimore. In 2009, the number increased to 6,213 — an almost 60 percent increase. The city’s median property value dropped by $10,500 between 2007-2012. And as of 2014, the city is ranked 69th out of 100 by Brookings on the strength of its economic recovery.
Even while Baltimore and other cities struggled, the federal government held corporations in higher regard than the American people; $1.2 trillion in post-recession bailouts from the Federal Reserve to private banks was equal to the money lost by homeowners holding 6.5 million foreclosed mortgages.