GovInsights: Crack Down on the Wealthy and Powerful; Empower Citizens Instead

This interview marks the fourth of a brand new series on GovLoop called “GovInsights” where we are interviewing and highlighting the thoughts and perspectives of professors at colleges and universities who are researching and writing about government issues.

This time, we talked to Dr. Gregory Squires, a Professor of Sociology, and Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University who has served as a consultant for civil rights organizations around the country and as a member of the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council.

Julia: What are the 3 biggest challenges for government today?

Dr. Squires:

1. Responding effectively to all but the wealthiest and most powerful interests – in particular the interests of corporate and financial institutions.


2. Implementing the Dodd Frank Financial Services reform bill in a manner that is responsive to the spirit of the law – regulations have to be written in a way that allows consumer financial protection. There is a need for greater oversight.


3. Realizing the objectives of the health insurance reform – There are discussions to overturn or weaken the bill. Some provisions of the bill are not scheduled to be implemented until 2014. It remains to be seen how many of these will remain as the law is challenged.


Julia: What are your proposed solutions?

Dr. Squires:

1. Legislation to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United and nurturing effective grass roots advocacy to pressure government agencies to do their jobs – Examples of such organizations include Citizens for Responsible Government, Center for Community Change, and National Fair Housing Alliance.


2. Enacting the CRA Modernization Act and empowering local community groups – fair housing and fair lending advocacy groups need to have the tools to effectively challenge financial service providers and financial service regulatory agencies when they fail to meet their responsibilities.


3. Again, encouraging effective organizing on the part of grass roots community organizations


Previous GovInsights:

– Harvard’s Dr. Ganz: GovInsights: We Need a Major Social Movement

– George Washington’s Dr. Langenbacher: GovInsights: What We Need Right Now — Spending Cuts, Higher Taxes and Closer Friends

– National Defense’s Dr. James Kaegle: GovInsights: Do You Have a “Duty to Die”?


Gregory D. Squires is a Professor of Sociology, and Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. Currently he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Woodstock Institute, the Advisory Board of the John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center in Chicago, Illinois, the District of Columbia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the Social Science Advisory Board of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council in Washington, D.C. He has served as a consultant for civil rights organizations around the country and as a member of the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council. He has written for several academic journals and general interest publications including Housing Policy Debate, Urban Studies, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, New York Times, and Washington Post. His recent books include Insurance Redlining (Urban Institute Press 1997), Color and Money (with Sally O’Connor – SUNY Press 2001), Urban Sprawl (Urban Institute Press 2002), Organizing Access to Capital (Temple University Press 2003), Why the Poor Pay More: How to Stop Predatory Lending (Praeger 2004), Privileged Places: Race, Residence and the Structure of Opportunity (with Charis E. Kubrin – Lynne Rienner 2006), There is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina (with Chester Hartman – Routledge 2006) and The Integration Debate: Competing Futures For American Cities (with Chester Hartman – Routledge 2010).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions here represent Dr. Gregory D. Squires own and not the ones of his employer or affiliated associations and institutions.

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Profile Photo Terri Jones

I do think that CRA is needed, my agency could do great things through the program. But, I also think that the growth of social media and sites like GovLoop can be used as effective citizen voices to present an alternative viewpoint. As we continue to build sites like GovLoop through persistent attention and contributions, we also need to be sure that citizens are visiting these sites to get information and alternate viewpoints. This will help us to communicate even as we wait for some of the reforms offered in this interview. Thanks for the ideas!