When it comes to understanding the real economy and the struggles of ordinary Americans, Senator Bernie Sanders always seems to be ahead ofthe curve and fighting like hell for Congress to show leadership and be responsive.
Sanders coined the phrase, "If you’re too big to fail, you’re too big to exist," back when he voted against the initial Wall Street Bailout in October 2008. Now, none other than former Fed Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker are parroting it, and a lot of other notables from across the political spectrum have come around to support busting up the banks too, as the Senator describes below.
The bill itself is a thing of beauty in its simplicity (and length! only two pages in this age of 1000-page behemoths!). It would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner 90 days to compile a list of commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds and insurance companies that he deems too big to fail, including "any entity that has grown so large that its failure would have a catastrophic effect on the stability of either the financial system or the United States economy without substantial Government assistance." Within one year after the legislation becomes law, the Treasury Department would be required to break up those financial institutions.
I spoke with Senator Sanders about the bill, its potential, and the challenge of organizing to take on Wall Street. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Where do things stand right now with the legislation?
Sen. Sanders: We introduced it a couple of days ago. It’s getting a lot of interest and support all over the country. On our website, we have a petition, and we have over 11,000 signatures on it already. There is some interest from some of my colleagues to push forward. And I think–what it does–maybe most importantly, what you are seeing all over the country right now are people from different perspectives who are coming out in support of the concept of breaking these guys up. I mean, you have people–from former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan himself, who more than anybody else led us to this deregulatory nightmare–beginning to rethink that. You have the government of the United Kingdom actually moving forward to start breaking up some of their large financial institutions. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, FDIC Chair Sheila Bair…. And then just a few days ago John Reed–who did not write the story of the Russian Revolution, I suppose–he was the former CEO of Citigroup, and he apologized. He came forward and he apologized to the American people for his activities in helping to engineer the deregulation effort…..