Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took to the floor of the Senate on Friday evening to share her thoughts about the government funding bill that passed the House on Thursday evening. That bill features provisions that will allow big banks to once again engage in risky investments with depositors’ money. Those provisions were largely written by Citibank.
Democrats’ hands were not clean on the bill, either. The final House vote was 219-206. There were 57 Democrats who voted in favor of it, after pressure from the White House. A revolt by progressive Democrats earlier in the day put the bill’s status into question, but Obama administration officials argued that if Democrats didn’t go along with the deal, they would get a worse deal in January, when Republicans take control on both sides of the Capitol.
Senator Warren is outraged over the bill. In recent weeks she has been one of only a few Democrats speaking out against the corruption of politics by corporate money. In Friday’s remarks, she observed that nobody likes corporate bailouts. But, she observed, thanks to corporate lobbyists, congress is considering a bill that will make more of those bailouts likely.
Elizabeth Warren says that Citibank has too much influence in Washington.
Warren opens her remarks by outlining the various connections that Citigroup, the parent company of Citibank, has to politicians from both parties. In the speech, Warren refers to the Dodd-Frank law, which was passed to regulate financial institutions after the economic collapse of 2008. That collapse was caused, in large measure, by banks doing exactly what the new bill will allow them to do again. Warren has this to say:
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 the 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…
So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi[group]. I agree with you Dodd-Frank
isn’t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces!
The ten minute speech is an impassioned plea for passing tougher regulations on big banks, instead of weakening the regulations that are already in place. Sadly, since too many politicians on both sides of the aisle receive a ton of money from those banks, her words will largely fall on deaf ears in Washington. But her words may have a profound effect on voters, especially if the result of weakening Dodd-Frank is that those voters lose their homes, or their life’s savings, in yet another avoidable economic collapse.
Here are Senator Warren’s remarks:
Image courtesy The Nation