The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Wall Street Is Giving Outrageous a Bad Name

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen


Wall Street is giving outrageous a bad name.

We are just 16 months past the Wall Street crash of 2008. Forget
profitability - Wall Street firms exist only because they have
benefited from trillions of dollars in public supports. These supports
extend far beyond the $700 billion for the Troubled Assets Relief
Program (TARP), commonly referred to as the bank bailout, and are
ongoing. The billions that Wall Street is now preparing to pay itself
in unconscionable bonuses come, in a very real sense, out of the
pockets of We, The People.

The rationale for rescuing the financial sector from itself was
never to enable Wall Street executives and traders to pull down
eight-figure bonuses. These bonuses do not reflect a return to prudent
lending to the real economy, but a return to the worst speculative
excesses of the past. We, The People - and our government - do not need
to sit idly and watch this Wall Street pillage. Now is the time for the
Congress, with White House support, to impose a bonus tax on Wall
Street. Public Citizen for months has urged adoption of a Wall Street
bonus tax. The United Kingdom has now adopted such a measure, and the
idea is quickly gaining support in the United States. Its our money
that Wall Street is trying to siphon from the system; our government
needs to take it back.

A bonus tax is only the first step in reforming Wall Street pay
abuses, and pay reform is only one component of needed financial
regulatory reform. Wall Streets readiness to pay itself outlandish
bonuses underscores the need for very aggressive reform measures. This
industry, above all, is one that cannot regulate or restrain itself.
Left to its own devices - as it was throughout the previous decade - it
will return to exactly the same destructive practices that have drained
the public treasury, led to millions of foreclosures and thrown the
economy into a tailspin.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000