Just a few moments ago, Senate Republicans – and some Democrats – passed a bill to gut the rules for 25-30 of the 40 biggest banks in the country.
I introduced 17 amendments in the past week to show the serious flaws in this bill. One was to prevent rolling back the rules on any big bank that got more than $1 billion in bailout money. Another prevented rolling back the rules on any big bank that’s paid more than $10 million in fines in the past ten years. Those seemed like some reasonable changes.
But Mitch McConnell refused to let us vote on any of them.
It may be what everyone expected – but it’s still infuriating. These rules weren’t just some bureaucratic red tape. They were rules to make sure big banks couldn’t cheat and scam their customers and rules to keep them from gambling like they did when they crashed our economy 10 years ago.
And today, the United States Senate just rolled over to the bank lobbyists. It makes me sick to my stomach.
After today’s vote, the big banks want people to believe that the time for accountability and a level playing field are over. The stories coming out will say how the Wall Street watchdogs lost all our power. But that’s wrong. We’re just getting started.
We may have lost today – but that does not mean we’re getting out of the ring. We’re building a bigger, stronger grassroots team that will fight back against Wall Street, the big banks, and powerful corporate interests that plan on using their win today as momentum to beat us in November.
You know, this wasn’t the first time we’ve lost to the big banks.
More than 20 years ago – long before I became a U.S. Senator – I teamed up with the late Senators Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone to stop the powerful banking lobby from making it harder for people to file for bankruptcy.
These weren’t all people who ran up their credit cards at the mall. Most of them were hardworking Americans who had reached the end of their ropes after a job loss, a health crisis, a family breakup, or some combination of all three. Good people who just need a second chance to get back on their feet.
We fought as hard as we could. Every time we’d kill one of their heartless bills in Congress, the industry would come back once more, bringing even more money and more lobbyists. It was like fighting some kind of mythical creature – cut off one head and a bigger one grew back.
We battled for ten years, but in 2005, the bank lobbyists won. They passed a bill that multiplied paperwork, increased filing fees, and stripped protections for single mothers (this one still makes me grind my teeth). Americans lost another safety net so the big banks could squeeze every possible penny out of them.
We lost, but we didn’t just hang up our gloves and quit – we fought harder than ever before. A few years later, when it came time to pass the most significant financial reform bill since the Great Depression, we fought the Wall Street lobbyists at every turn – and we won.
I’m up for reelection this November – and we’re building a bigger, stronger grassroots team that is going to fight back against Wall Street, big banks and corporate interests. We’re also fighting back to help elect more Democrats this November who will stand up and fight for the people.
We won’t win every fight – but we can’t ever win if we don’t fight.