Joint Statement: Advocates deliver 350,000+ petition signatures calling for Congressional action on Glass-Steagall

Advocates from Take on Wall Street, an alliance of labor, consumer, community, religious, and netroots organizations, were on Capitol Hill this morning, telling key Congressional leaders to support a new Glass-Steagall Act. The groups delivered a petition with more than 350,000 signatures, calling on House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), as well as Senate Banking Committee chair Richard Shelby and others, to follow through on a policy backed by both the Democratic and Republican Party platforms.

The petitions were gathered by the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, American Family Voices, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Courage Campaign, CREDO, Daily Kos, EPI Policy Center, Franciscan Action Network, Jobs with Justice, Just Foreign Policy, People for the American Way,, Progressive Congress Action Fund, the Nation, and Rootstrikers.

This year, even as the two parties disagree about almost everything, both have included Glass-Steagall planks in their platforms. But with Congress poised to adjourn until election day, no action has yet been taken to advance the bipartisan 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, whose sponsors include Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Republican John McCain of Arizona, and Independent Angus King of Maine.

The groups involved in today’s action brought printed petitions to the offices of Chairman Hensarling, whose committee has passed numerous Wall Street deregulation bills during his tenure, while never even considering a Glass-Steagall measure.The petitions were also delivered electronically to Republican and Democratic legislative leaders, and to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee.

“Until risky investment banks are separated from federally insured consumer banking, the Wall Street culture of excess, big bonuses and poor decision making will continue. This puts us all at risk for another financial crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Now is the time to rein in these practices that led to the financial collapse that caused millions of everyday Americans to lose their jobs, homes and retirement savings. Instead of reversing course, we need to move forward on improving economic conditions for all working people by passing regulation such as the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.”

“Congressional Republican leaders are trying to have it both ways – talking tough, without walking the walk,” said CREDO Political Director Murshed Zaheed, adding, “Republican leadership in Congress need to follow their platform and schedule an immediate vote on the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.”

The support for Glass Steagall in the two party platforms reflects the views of the great majority of Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. That’s the finding of a new poll commissioned by the Communications Workers of America as part of the Take on Wall Street campaign. In four pivotal swing states, the poll shows voters overwhelmingly favoring reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.

“Bankers shouldn’t gamble with funds made cheap and abundant by taxpayer guarantees,” said Bartlett Naylor, Financial Policy Advocate at Public Citizen. “Congress should restore Glass Steagall.”

“Today, Americans are calling Congress’s bluff,” said Kurt Walters, campaign director at Demand Progress’s Rootstrikers project. “Both parties’ embrace of Glass-Steagall in their platforms recognizes the country’s desire for leadership to make Wall Street banks smaller, simpler, and safer. But less than 3% of Congress has signed onto legislation to do just that. Every member of Congress should be on notice: Americans are watching whether they will follow through on their campaign trail promises or are cynically spouting empty rhetoric.”

“Small businesses are much better served when banks are focused on traditional lending — and our businesses and our employees are also the ones who suffer the most when too big to fail banks engage in risky speculation that hurts the whole economy,” said David Borris, a small business owner and member of the Main Street Alliance. “Restoring the Glass-Steagall firewall between the two is critical to ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to grow without being exposed by greedy risk-taking.”

“It’s time for members of Congress to respect the views of the public and the statements in their own party platforms and restore a Glass-Steagall division between investment and commercial banking,” said Marcus Stanley, Policy Director of Americans for Financial Reform. “Reinstating a modernized version of Glass Steagall will make our financial system more stable and secure, more competitive, and more focused on supporting the Main Street economy.”