Greed, fraud, dishonesty, and arrogance: these are the words that best describe the reality of Wall Street today.
We can no longer tolerate an economy and a political system that have been rigged by Wall Street to benefit the wealthiest Americans in this country at the expense of everyone else. While President Obama deserves credit for getting this economy back on track after the Wall Street crash, the reality is there is a lot of unfinished business.
That's why I announced my plan for taking on Wall Street. We must break up the banks, end their casino-style gambling, and fundamentally change the approach of the financial industry to focus on helping the American people.
When I am president, we will reform Wall Street and our financial system to make it work for all Americans. I want to tell you about what I will do, then ask you to add your name to endorse our plan.
To those on Wall Street, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation. And here is a promise I will make as president: If Wall Street does not end its greed, we will end it for them.
As most people know, in the 1990s and later, financial interests spent billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to force through Congress the deregulation of Wall Street, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and the weakening of consumer protection laws.
They paid this money to show the American people all that they could do with that freedom. Well, they sure showed the American people. In 2008, the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street nearly destroyed the U.S. and global economy. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings.
Meanwhile, the American middle class continues to disappear, poverty is increasing, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider by the day. But the American people are catching on. They also know that a handful of people on Wall Street have extraordinary power over the economic and political life of our country.
We must act now to change that. Our goal must be to create a financial system and an economy that works for all Americans, not just a handful of billionaires.
There are eight points to my plan, and I want to go through each of them here because I think it's important for our campaign to discuss specific policies with our supporters. Some of this may seem a little in the weeds, but I trust our supporters to be able to handle this kind of policy discussion.
Here's my plan for what I will do with Wall Street when I am president:
Break up huge financial institutions in the first year of my administration. Within the first 100 days of my administration, I will require the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a “Too Big to Fail” list of commercial banks, shadow banks, and insurance companies whose failure would pose a catastrophic risk to the U.S. economy without a taxpayer bailout. Within one year, my administration will break these institutions up so that they no longer pose a grave threat to the economy.So my message to you is straightforward: I’ll rein in Wall Street's reckless behavior so they can’t crash our economy again.
Reinstate a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to clearly separate traditional banking from risky investment banking and insurance services. It is not enough to tell Wall Street to "cut it out," propose a few new rules and slap on some fines. Under my administration, financial institutions will no longer be too big to fail or too big to manage. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments. If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
End too-big-to-jail. We live in a country today that has an economy that is rigged, a campaign finance system which is corrupt, and a criminal justice system which often does not dispense justice. The average American sees kids being arrested and sometimes even jailed for possessing marijuana. But when it comes to Wall Street executives — some of the most wealthy and powerful people in this country whose illegal behavior hurt millions of Americans — somehow nothing happens to them. No jail time. No police record. No justice.
Not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy. That will change under my administration. “Equal Justice Under Law” will not just be words engraved on the entrance of the Supreme Court. It will be the standard that applies to Wall Street and all Americans.
Establish a tax on Wall Street to discourage reckless gambling and encourage productive investments in the job-creating economy. We will use the revenue from this tax to make public colleges and universities tuition free. During the financial crisis, the middle class of this country bailed out Wall Street. Now, it’s Wall Street’s turn to help the middle class.
Cap Credit Card Interest Rates and ATM Fees. We have got to stop financial institutions from ripping off the American people by charging sky-high interest rates and outrageous fees. In my view, it is unacceptable that Americans are paying a $4 or $5 fee each time they go to the ATM. And it is unacceptable that millions of Americans are paying credit card interest rates of 20 or 30 percent.
The Bible has a term for this practice. It's called usury. And in The Divine Comedy, Dante reserved a special place in the Seventh Circle of Hell for sinners who charged people usurious interest rates. Today, we don't need the hellfire and the pitchforks, we don't need the rivers of boiling blood, but we do need a national usury law.
We need to cap interest rates on credit cards and consumer loans at 15 percent. I would also cap ATM fees at $2.
Allow Post Offices to Offer Banking Services. We also need to give Americans affordable banking options. The reality is that, unbelievably, millions of low-income Americans live in communities where there are no normal banking services. Today, if you live in a low-income community and you need to cash a check or get a loan to pay for a car repair or a medical emergency, where do you go? You go to a payday lender who could charge an interest rate of over 300 percent and trap you into a vicious cycle of debt. That is unacceptable.
We need to stop payday lenders from ripping off millions of Americans. Post offices exist in almost every community in our country. One important way to provide decent banking opportunities for low-income communities is to allow the U.S. Postal Service to engage in basic banking services, and that's what I will fight for.
Reform Credit Rating Agencies. We cannot have a safe and sound financial system if we cannot trust the credit agencies to accurately rate financial products. The only way we can restore that trust is to make sure credit rating agencies cannot make a profit from Wall Street. Under my administration, we will turn for-profit credit rating agencies into non-profit institutions, independent from Wall Street. No longer will Wall Street be able to pick and choose which credit agency will rate their products.
Reform the Federal Reserve. We need to structurally reform the Federal Reserve to make it a more democratic institution responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans, not just the billionaires on Wall Street. It is unacceptable that the Federal Reserve has been hijacked by the very bankers it is in charge of regulating. When Wall Street was on the verge of collapse, the Federal Reserve acted with a fierce sense of urgency to save the financial system. We need the Fed to act with the same boldness to combat the unemployment crisis and fulfill its full employment mandate.
Will Wall Street like me? No. Will they begin to play by the rules if I’m president? You better believe it.
That is our plan to create an economy that works for all Americans, not just a handful of billionaires. If you agree with what we want to do, add your name to say that you stand with me.
No president alone, not Bernie Sanders or anyone else, can effectively address the crises facing the working families of this country without a powerful grassroots movement. When we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
Thank you for standing with me.
Paid for by Bernie 2016, berniesanders.com/together
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
I'm gratified to see that it was the latter.
It was Bernie Sanders who laid the groundwork that day for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which injected income and wealth inequality, the concept of the "1%", and the need to destroy the harmful myth of "trickledown economics", into the national discussion.
December 10, 2010: the day Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) changed the discussion to inequality
First published December 11, 2010
It has occurred to me that yesterday was the perfect storm.
For the first time in my lifetime, a real man took the floor in the United States Senate, and fought for the soul of his country.
Senator Bernie Sanders, 69 years old, stood up on the floor of the Senate and over a period of eight and a half hours, gave the world an incredible history lesson and economics lesson about what has happened to the United States economically from 1928 to 2010.
I have never seen anything like this, and I doubt I will ever see it again.
But Bernie Sanders, armed only with facts, evidence, and the truth, laid out clearly, and unimpeachably, how Reaganomics -- which has controlled the financial wellbeing of the American people from 1980 to 2010 -- was merely a replay of the laissez faire economics which led up to the Great Crash of 1929, and the Great Depression which ensued.
I do not know what the future holds, whether Sanders's landmark speech will go unheeded like the great warning given to us by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, or whether it will mark a turning point bringing us back from the abyss which lies ahead if present policy is continued, but either scenario guarantees that we will look back on yesterday, December 10, 2010, as a significant day in American history... the day the case was made for fairness by one Bernard Sanders.
In 1980, professional screen actor Ronald Reagan began one of the greatest con jobs in all of history, convincing a majority or at least a strong plurality of the American people that government is bad, and corporations are good.
This policy has been in the ascendancy for thirty years. The antitrust laws which prevented monopolization and ensured competition have been virtually torn out of the law books, the securities laws were rendered unenforceable by congressional action impeding private enforcement and staffing reductions impeding public enforcement, income tax and estate laws were manipulated to increase the burdens on the working class and to decrease the burdens on the wealthiest of Americans, the copyright laws were manipulated to favor large corporations over artists, creators, and the public, the laws which separated the financial markets and banks were eliminated, and on and on.
Republican Pres. George H. W. Bush of course continued Reaganomics.
And Pres. Bill Clinton, nominally a Democrat, continued it, too. He even expanded upon it, by foisting NAFTA upon the American people, and accelerating the export of American jobs to other countries, further obliterating the middle class that had been created by the protections of the New Deal for trade unions, and by social safety nets such as Social Security and unemployment insurance and the GI Bill. Bill Clinton's term created unprecedented opportunity for multinational corporations, all at the expense of the common man, to whom not a thing "trickled down". Although a Democrat, and most often labeled a "centrist", one would be hard pressed to find a single economic policy of Reagan and Bush which Clinton did not at least continue, and in many cases expand upon. His "centrism" helped to further weaken our country's "center", its middle class. So I reject the appellation "centrist"; he unfailingly represented the right wing's economic agenda. Unlike Reagan, Clinton probably wasn't doctrinaire about Reaganomics and trickle-down, he was willing to do whatever the polls said would be popular. And since Reagan's sales pitch had worked, he just went along with it. He of course never attempted to mount his own sales pitch for what he knew was right; that would be "leadership". We've had none of that.
Then Pres. George W. Bush came along, getting into power in 2000 only by election tampering and judicial cronyism, and clinging to power in 2004 only by massive election fraud, and in both terms continuing with great vigor the right wing, anti-people, pro-corporation policy of his admitted hero, Ronald Reagan.
The very first murmur of an end to Reaganomics was the campaign of then Senator Barack Obama in 2008, who made numerous campaign promises, among them that he would fight for a public option in health care, an end to the Hyde Amendment impairing womens' right to choose, and an end to the George W. Bush tax cuts for the rich.
Unfortunately it was only in the campaign that Mr. Obama waged those fights.
As President he has not fought at all for the things he represented that he believed in, and his healthcare reform was cause for great jubilation among healthcare insurance companies and the investors who held their stock, since its primary features were to force an increase in the number of policy holders, whether they could afford to buy the policies or not, and to prevent people other than those on Medicare [or in the employ of Congress] from having access to a public option.
In view of the strong sense of public outrage at Obama's backroom deal with GOP leaders to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, in this time of massive deficit and economic depression, and the President's inability to convince the people that the nonsensical thing he is doing makes any sense, Pres. Obama further demonstrated his weakness by trotting out his Democratic Party, Reaganomics-loving, predecessor, Bill Clinton, to speak to reporters yesterday, in an attempt to deflect attention from Senator Sanders's historic speech.
How fitting. And how surprising that a longtime supporter of Reaganomics would argue for its continuation.
The "mainstream" media -- which ignored Senator Sanders's historic address on the floor of the Senate -- was quick to report on Clinton's tired talk with reporters in the Whitehouse briefing room, a vivid illustration of why the "mainstream" media are no longer "mainstream", and why no tears are being shed for their ongoing demise.
Among Twitter's 100 million plus members, the Bernie Sanders address trended #1 worldwide. It was clearly the most important story in the world that day: a battle for the soul of the most powerful country in the world, trying to pull it back from its government's love affair with the most powerful multinational corporations and aggregations of wealth the world has ever seen, whose greatest joys in life are the rape of forests, oceans, and mountaintops, the slaughter of everything that breathes, the building of armaments, the destruction of ancient peoples and cultures, and the privatizing of water needed by poor people for their survival.
Yesterday was the perfect storm. A perfect alignment of the forces of light versus the forces of darkness.
On one side, Bernie Sanders fighting for the people.
On the other, the corporatists, plutocrats, and oligarchs, and the corporate media who continually try to spin their malignancy as benign, fighting for the wealthy.
What a day.
I will remember it forever.
God bless Bernie Sanders.
Full transcript of Sen. Bernie Sanders(@SenSanders)'s historic 12/10/10 speech
Video of the speech
A paperback book of the speech
(Short URL for this post: http://goo.gl/mAaBjM)