Leaders from Civil Rights, Labor, and Consumer Rights Groups Hold Press Call to Highlight Groundswell of Support for Wall Street Reform and Detail What to Expect in the Senate Debate
Washington, D.C. – Today leaders from civil rights, labor, and consumer rights groups held a press conference call to discuss the state of play for financial reform legislation after a week of intense activity in Washington and across the nation in support of the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act.”
Leaders on the call highlighted the groundswell of support for financial reform around the country, where thousands of people participated in rallies on Wall Street, in San Francisco, Kansas City, and Charlotte.
The groups also identified specific amendments and pieces of the bill that will be essential to meaningful financial reform:
- A Strong Independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that provides real, loophole-free protections for regular people against credit card fine print, incomprehensible trick mortgages, payday lending, and car dealers that get kickbacks.
- Loophole-free Regulation of the Derivatives Market, and the establishment of a stock exchange-style system for derivatives that would make these now-secret trades transparent, and require that banks prove they have the funds to back their bets.
- A Strengthened “Volcker Rule” and Limits on Proprietary Trading, as provided by the Merkley-Levin amendment.
- A Cap on Bank Size, as provided by the Brown-Kaufman-Casey-Whitehouse amendment, which would put statutory limits on the size and leverage used by financial institutions.
- A Requirement that Securities Brokers Act in the Best Interest of their Clients.
- Measures to Hold Credit Rating Agencies Accountable for contributing to the financial crisis by stamping AAA seals of approval on what were actually enormously risky products.
- Regulation of Private Equity and Hedge Funds to guard against what could be the next big bailout – with millions of jobs on the line.
The participants issued the following statements on the call:
“We in the civil and human rights community are committed to ensuring that the bill the Senate passes is the strongest possible bill, with the most robust consumer protections it can have. We will not back down against the big Banks that have already poured millions of dollars into advertising and congressional lobbying to fight reform, water down legislation, and maintain the status quo. Working Americans have shown their overwhelming support for Wall Street reform and they deserve real solutions to protect their hard-earned savings.” – Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“From San Francisco to Kansas City, Wall Street to Washington, this week more than ten thousand people marched to demand that the Senate pass meaningful reform to rein in the big Banks, protect consumers and end the casino economy. After numerous attempts by Republicans to derail the bill, the Senate is now debating this must pass legislation. Eight million Americans lost their jobs because of the recession caused largely by the reckless behavior of the big Banks. They are now looking to the Senate to pass meaningful reform to ensure that this cannot happen again. As the bill moves to the floor, AFR, and our 250 coalition partners, will be working night and day to ensure this bill is strengthened, not weakened.” – Heather Booth, Director of Americans for Financial Reform (AFR)
“Yesterday thousands marched on Wall Street. In two weeks, people from more than 25 states are taking the fight to the DC address of the big banks – K Street and Capitol Hill. The big banks have hijacked our democracy and people from walks of life are heading to our nation’s Capitol to take it back. We plan to expose Members of Congress who are marching to the tune of the Wall Street banks and their DC lobbyists.” – George Goehl, Executive Director of the National People’s Action (NPA)
“This week, thousands of Americans directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis descended on the shareholder meetings of the most powerful banks in the country to cry out for real change. Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf would not acknowledge any of the damage they have caused our communities and refused to even meet with a delegation of top clergy and labor leaders. The leaders of the largest banks in America are completely out of touch with the reality of everyday Americans and this underscores the urgent need for financial reform and real bank accountability.” – Adam Kruggel, Executive Director of Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO)
“Working people have paid the price of Wall Street’s greed through lost homes, lost jobs and lost retirement savings. It is time to put in place comprehensive financial regulations to make sure that this never happens again.” – Heather L. Slavkin, Senior Legal and Policy Advisor of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment