Banks Too Big to Fail? Break 'Em Up

The Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy recently gave
its first-ever "Golden Throne Award" to the president and CEO of
the American Bankers Association, Edward Yingling.

Suffice it to say that Yingling wasn't thrilled.

The Golden Throne, you see, is more like a
that-really-takes-a-lot-of-chutzpah award - as in the big bankers
nearly bankrupting the American economy and now spending big bucks
lobbying to convince Congress that it shouldn't enact tighter
regulation. The award is named in honor of the gold toilet that
former Merrill Lynch Chairman John Thain had installed in his
office while spending $1.2 million remodeling it when his company
was going broke.

It was a year ago this month that Merrill Lynch, AIG and Lehman
Brothers all tanked, exposing the house of cards that the nation's
financial giants had constructed during the past several years.
Lehman went out of business, Bank of America bought Merrill (with
the government's help), and AIG was propped up with tens of
billions in taxpayer loans.

In the aftermath, Yingling and the other big banking industry
lobbyists have been fighting everything from attempts to protect
consumers from credit card abuse to reforming the way bankers pay
their top executives.

As U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said at Fighting Bob Fest earlier this
month, "These guys have absolutely no shame."

Not one of them has ever apologized for the financial mess they
created, causing hardships for people on pensions and throwing
millions of Americans out of work. If there were any justice, the
Vermont senator added, several of these people would be serving
time in jail because what they did was nothing short of

After being rescued by the federal government, they now want the
government to keep its nose out of their business - as if we can
ever trust these guys again.

The chutzpah of the financial giants is endless. After giving
bonuses to employees to sell risky mortgages and then slicing and
dicing them into incomprehensible derivatives that fed the
financial meltdown, they now - according to the Wall Street Journal
- are devising similar instruments to buy life insurance policies
from individuals and package them for sale.

Particularly galling is the banking association's opposition to
reforming the Pell Grant program, which provides financial
assistance to needy college kids. With backing from the Republicans
in Congress, the banks have had a cool deal for themselves. The
feds provided private banks with capital and then paid them a
subsidy to lend that capital to the students. Plus, the government
guaranteed the loans so banks don't have any risk.

The program has been worth about $8 billion to the banks every
year. There would be hell to pay if poor people received such

Congress is now finally getting around to having the government
make the loans directly to the students, saving about $87 billion
over 10 years. That money can be used to help more students get
help to attend college. The banking giants, with Ed Yingling
leading the way, don't like that.

As Sanders said, "We were told we had to bail these guys out
because they were too big to fail. Well, if they're too big to
fail, then they're too big to exist. I say break them up."

That, indeed, would be the thing to do.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

© 2023 The Capital Times