Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Activists protest in front of the DC office of Goldman Sachs November 16, 2009 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist': Sanders Introduces Bill to Break Up Nation's Largest Wall Street Banks

"We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street: the policy of 'too big to fail.'"

Jake Johnson

With Wall Street banks as big and profitable as ever ten years after their reckless criminality sparked the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would break up Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and other so-called "too big to fail" financial institutions that pose a major systemic risk to the American economy.

"No financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation's economic well being."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"No financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation's economic well being," Sanders said in a statement. "We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street: the policy of 'too big to fail.'"

Titled "The Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act," Sanders' legislation would break up any bank that has a total exposure of more than three percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP)—the equivalent to $584.5 billion in today's dollars.

If passed, Sanders' bill would break up of America's six largest financial institutions—JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley—as well as massive non-bank financial corporations like AIG and Prudential.

"These six major financial institutions have over $10 trillion in assets, equivalent to 54 percent of our entire GDP and have a combined total exposure that exceeds 68 percent of our nation's GDP," according to a summary of the new legislation released by Sanders' office.

In a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, Sanders discussed the details of the new legislation with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)—who is planning to introduce a companion bill in the House—and economist Simon Johnson, who joined a large group of financial experts, consumer advocacy groups, and labor unions in endorsing the Vermont senator's bill:

"The new Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist proposed legislation from Senator Bernie Sanders is short and to the point," Johnson said in a statement on Wednesday. "The largest banks and other highly leveraged financial institutions are simply too big—and pose a real danger to our continued economic recovery.  Make them break up into smaller pieces, bringing more competition, better service and lower risks for the American economy."

“Too big to fail should be too big to exist," Rep. Sherman concluded. "Never again should a financial institution be able to demand a federal bailout."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Sanders Demands End to Medicare Premium Hike From Alzheimer's Drug

Biogen's original price for the controversial drug, he argues, "is the perfect example of why Medicare should be negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Monumental Victory' as Biden Cancels Boundary Waters Mining Leases

Rep. Betty McCollum called the administration's decision "a rejection of the deeply flawed and politically motivated process under the Trump administration."

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Groups Demand Hearings on the 'Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act'

"The longer Congress waits," warned one advocate, "the stronger and more dangerous this industry will become."

Kenny Stancil ·


Democrats Urge Biden to Abandon Dangerous Trump Policies on Nuclear Weapons

With the Nuclear Posture Review, say congressional lawmakers, the president can ensure "future generations can finally be free from the nuclear sword of Damocles that hangs over all our heads."

Andrea Germanos ·


'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo