Sanders: Congress Must Make Real Changes on Wall Street

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CommonDreams.org

Sanders: Congress Must Make Real Changes on Wall Street

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Statement by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

WASHINGTON - With the Senate slated soon to begin debate on
a financial overhaul bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that
reform legislation must fundamentally change the way that Wall Street
works. 

"Disgust
at Wall Street is profound. The American people want us to change in a very
profound way how Wall Street functions, and Congress must deliver,"
said Sanders.

He
said real reform should include a credit card interest cap, similar to
legislation sponsored by Sanders and endorsed last week by hundreds of
religious leaders and community organizations from across the country. The
Senate bill also must lift the secrecy at the Federal Reserve, which has
refused to divulge which financial institutions received more than $2
trillion in loans. There are now 32 cosponsors of a Sanders bill demanding
greater openness at the Fed.

Real
financial reform also must break up big banks to eliminate monopoly-like
ownership concentrations and to keep any single failing financial institution
from dragging the economy down with it. The concept behind legislation
Sanders first introduced last Nov. 5 has drawn support from progressives and
conservatives alike, including three Federal Reserve bank presidents. The
financial reform bill also must steer Wall Street toward investments in
job-creating businesses and away from esoteric financial instruments, he
said.

Sanders
said he would offer or back amendments to the financial reform bill that
would:

  • Break
    Up Huge Banks
    . The four biggest U.S. banks - Bank of
    America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Well-Fargo - issue two-thirds of
    all credit cards, write half the mortgages and control nearly 40 percent of
    bank deposits in the United Sates. "We must break up these behemoths
    because of the incredible economic power they exert through their
    concentration of ownership," Sanders said. "It is simply not
    acceptable that a small handful of giant financial entities can exert such
    enormous influence over the economic well being of hundreds of millions of
    Americans." 
  • Make
    Wall Street Part of the Real American Economy.
      "With rampant unemployment
    and when small- and medium-size businesses are unable to obtain affordable
    credit, it is insane that our largest financial institutions continue to
    trade trillions in esoteric financial instruments which makes Wall Street the
    largest gambling casino in the world," he said.  Instead, Sanders
    said, we need to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our manufacturing
    base, transforming our energy system and addressing our transportation and
    infrastructure crisis.  We need to make sure that businesses get the
    credit they need to expand and create employment.

  • Cap
    Credit Card Interest Rates.
    Millions of middle-class Americans who pay
    their bills on time are being charged interest rates of 30 percent or
    more.  "That is not only obscene but, according to every major
    religion, immoral.  Banks cannot be allowed to engage in usury and
    charge outrageous interest rates," Sanders said. He will offer an
    amendment that would cap interest rates for private banks at the same level
    federal law allows for credit unions; 15 percent except under exceptional
    circumstances.

  • End
    Fed Secrecy.
    During the bailout, large financial institutions received
    trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans.  "Who received
    those loans and under what terms?   The Fed won't say. 
    Did some of them turn around and, in a mammoth welfare scam, invest that Fed
    money in government treasury bonds at 3 percent or 4 percent interest
    rates?  The Fed isn't telling.  It's time we had
    transparency at the Fed so that the American people know what our central
    bank is doing with taxpayer dollars," Sanders said.

Sanders
said it is clear that it will not be easy for Congress to pass real and
meaningful financial reform. When Wall Street and the financial sector
successfully fought for deregulation, they poured some $5 billion dollars
into lobbying and campaign contributions over a 10-year period.  Now, as
Congress begins to address financial reform, they are at it again.  In
2009, the major financial interests spent $300 million in lobbying and
campaign contributions.

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