Tucson Progressive

Pamela J. Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Sanders Echos Warren with Call to ‘Bust Up the Big Banks’

Teddy Roosevelt

President Teddy Roosevelt was America’s original “trust-buster,” taking on monopolies and big banks in the early 20th century.

One day after Senator Elizabeth Warren rekindled the spirit of President Teddy Roosevelt and called for breaking up the Wall Street banks because they have too much political power, Senator Bernie Sanders has seconded that proposal.

From Sanders’ press release:

“Over the last several days, it has become abundantly clear that Congress does not regulate Wall Street but Wall Street regulates Congress.  If Wall Street lobbyists can literally write a provision into law that will allow too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets that nearly destroyed our economy just a few years ago, it should be obvious to all that their incredible economic and political power is a huge danger to our economy and our way of life,” Sanders said.

Lobbyists for Citigroup drafted the measure and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon reportedly called congressmen to lobby for the provision that would gut a key provision of Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform law passed in 2010.

“Enough is enough,” Sanders said. “Today, almost all of the too-big-to-fail banks are bigger and even more powerful than they were before we bailed them out. The six largest financial institutions have over $9.8 trillion in assets — the equivalent of more than 60 percent of GDP.  They issue over half of the mortgages and more than two-thirds of the credit cards in America.

“If Congress cannot regulate Wall Street, there is just one alternative.  It is time to break these too-big-to-fail banks up so that they can never again destroy the jobs, homes, and life savings of the American people.

Nonpartisan League

A cartoon from the Nonpartisan League, a group of prairie populists who took on the industrialists and the Wall Street banks in the early 20th century, during the first progressive era.

“At the beginning of the new Congress, I will be introducing legislation that will break these behemoth banks up once and for all. If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  I look forward to working with both progressive and conservative Senators who have the courage to stand up to Wall Street and protect the working families of this country,” Sanders said.

The idea of busting up banks and other monopolies is not a new one. Around the turn of the 20th century, as industrialists were becoming more economically and politically powerful, the first American progressive movement began to fight for “the little guy”. Across the prairie states, groups like the Nonpartisan League organized farmers who were enraged by Wall Street bankers and big business. Wall Street was foreclosing on family farms, and the railroads were charging unfair shipping prices to farmers. Progressive leaders like President Teddy Roosevelt became champions who led the charge against unfair practices by big business and big banks.

Will Sanders, Warren, and grassroots groups like Progressive Democrats of American, People Demanding Action, Occupy, MoveOn, and the Public Banking Institute lead the charge against corporate greed and power in this New Progressive Era?

[P.S. To learn more about Teddy, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt, check out great 2014 PBS documentary here.]

One comment on “Sanders Echos Warren with Call to ‘Bust Up the Big Banks’

  1. Pingback: As Democrats Move Left, Republicans Have Moved Dangerously To The Extreme Right | The Fifth Column

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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