One day after Senator Elizabeth Warren rekindled the spirit of President Teddy Roosevelt and called for breaking up the Wall Street banks because they have too much political power, Senator Bernie Sanders has seconded that proposal.
From Sanders’ press release:
“Over the last several days, it has become abundantly clear that Congress does not regulate Wall Street but Wall Street regulates Congress. If Wall Street lobbyists can literally write a provision into law that will allow too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets that nearly destroyed our economy just a few years ago, it should be obvious to all that their incredible economic and political power is a huge danger to our economy and our way of life,” Sanders said.
Lobbyists for Citigroup drafted the measure and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon reportedly called congressmen to lobby for the provision that would gut a key provision of Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform law passed in 2010.
“Enough is enough,” Sanders said. “Today, almost all of the too-big-to-fail banks are bigger and even more powerful than they were before we bailed them out. The six largest financial institutions have over $9.8 trillion in assets — the equivalent of more than 60 percent of GDP. They issue over half of the mortgages and more than two-thirds of the credit cards in America.
“If Congress cannot regulate Wall Street, there is just one alternative. It is time to break these too-big-to-fail banks up so that they can never again destroy the jobs, homes, and life savings of the American people.
“At the beginning of the new Congress, I will be introducing legislation that will break these behemoth banks up once and for all. If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. I look forward to working with both progressive and conservative Senators who have the courage to stand up to Wall Street and protect the working families of this country,” Sanders said.
The idea of busting up banks and other monopolies is not a new one. Around the turn of the 20th century, as industrialists were becoming more economically and politically powerful, the first American progressive movement began to fight for “the little guy”. Across the prairie states, groups like the Nonpartisan League organized farmers who were enraged by Wall Street bankers and big business. Wall Street was foreclosing on family farms, and the railroads were charging unfair shipping prices to farmers. Progressive leaders like President Teddy Roosevelt became champions who led the charge against unfair practices by big business and big banks.
Will Sanders, Warren, and grassroots groups like Progressive Democrats of American, People Demanding Action, Occupy, MoveOn, and the Public Banking Institute lead the charge against corporate greed and power in this New Progressive Era?
[P.S. To learn more about Teddy, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt, check out great 2014 PBS documentary here.]