Bernie Sanders has swung for the fences and announced a bill that would break up the “too big to fail” financial institutions whose reckless gambling with public finances led to the Great Recession. Never one to mince words about the tightening stranglehold that Wall Street banks have upon our economy and political system, it’s a rare show of bravery and determination that is rarely seen on the political field with a great many of our legislators indebted to or even entirely in the pocket of the corporate oligarchs.
Sander’s bill would empower the Financial Stability Oversight Committee to create a list of banks that are “too big to fail”. The financial institutions on this list would be broken up within a year; during that time, they would be prohibited from using customer funds for speculative trading or any of the other large-scale betting games that the traders play with the public’s money. The first names on the chopping block will be the “Big Six”- JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup. Together, these six institutions control assets equivalent to 60% of America’s entire GDP- some 9.459 trillion dollars. In addition, the institutions on the list will not be able to receive bailouts from the federal government should they try to self-destruct out of spite.
Sanders’ press conference had this to say on the matter:
No single financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation’s economic well-being. No single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure would send the world economy into crisis. If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist and that is the bottom line.
While the bill has very little hope of passing in the Republican-controlled Congress, it’s the kind of revolutionary change that our country desperately needs. While the GOP has sold their souls to the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate millionaires, believing that their support will insulate them from the repercussions that will occur if the Republicans succeed in gutting the middle class, Sanders has been leading the charge from the other side of the aisle, making income inequality and the role of money in politics a central and very public issue. He’s been successful in encouraging his Democratic rivals leftwards, ensuring that if his own campaign doesn’t succeed, the work that he has begun will be continued by whoever succeeds President Obama.
It is a radical, polarized America that we live in, and it is a time for radical, polarizing moves. Bernie Sanders has fired the first shots of a populist movement to retake our nation from the 1% and free it from the financial cancer that is sucking the life out of the American people and profiting the richest of the rich.
His full speech can be seen here.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.