Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave ’em hell on the Senate floor this past Friday, ripping into the influence of Citigroup and the Wall Street banks in the wake of the must-pass Cromnibus budget bill. Watch the speech above, but if you don’t have time, read the transcript. Excerpts:
Fact two: During Dodd-Frank, there was an amendment introduced by my colleague Senator Brown and Senator Kaufman that would have broken up Citigroup and the nation’s other largest banks. That amendment had bipartisan support, and it might have passed, but it ran into powerful opposition from an alliance between Wall Streeters on Wall Street and Wall Streeters who held powerful government jobs. They teamed up and blocked the move to break up the banks—and now Citi is bigger than ever.
The role that senior officials working in the Treasury department played in killing the amendment was not subtle: A senior Treasury official acknowledged it at the time in a background interview with New York Magazine. The official from Treasury said, and I’m quoting here, “If we’d been for it, it probably would have happened. But we weren’t, so it didn’t.” That’s power.
Mr. President, Democrats don’t like Wall Street bailouts. Republicans don’t like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts. And yet here we are — five years after Dodd-Frank – with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for middle class, do nothing for community banks – do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again.
There’s a lot of talk lately about how the Dodd-Frank Act isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of talk coming from Citigroup about how the Dodd-Frank Act isn’t perfect.
So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect.
It should have broken you into pieces.
A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt was America’s trustbuster. He went after the giant trusts and monopolies in this country, and a lot of people talk about how those trusts deserved to be broken up because they had too much economic power. But Teddy Roosevelt said we should break them up because they had too much political power. Teddy Roosevelt said break them up because all that concentrated power threatened the very foundations of our democratic system.
And now we’re watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of the country. And it’s attached to a bill that needs to pass or else the entire federal government will grind to a halt.
Think about this kind of power. A financial institution has become so big and so powerful that it can hold the entire country hostage. That alone is a reason enough for us break them up. Enough is enough.
Read the whole thing. Preach it, lady.
We don’t endorse candidates at TAC, and I want to make it very clear that nothing I write ever should be read as an endorsement of Elizabeth Warren or any politician, Republican or Democrat. But I hope that Sen. Warren will run for president in 2016 to force a national conversation on the Washington-Wall Street power nexus. Hillary Clinton won’t talk about it. You know that no Republican presidential candidate will talk about it (with the possible — possible — exception of Rand Paul). We all need to be talking about it.
A populist who talks like Elizabeth Warren and really means it is a Democrat a conservative like me would consider voting for, despite her social liberalism. As Phyllis Schlafly said back in 1964, in defending Goldwater against the Establishment Republican Nelson Rockefeller, a contest between Warren and Clinton, and a contest between Warren and just about any Republican would give the country a choice, not an echo. She almost certainly couldn’t beat Hillary for the 2016 nomination, but a Warren candidacy would get her name and her issues out there.