If you ever doubted that we are all in this together, the financial crisis surely dashed all denial on this front.
Everyone has been impacted by the reckless greed and abuse of the big banks. Whether it be the ongoing tidal wave of foreclosures, cresting unemployment, bank-owned properties littering neighborhoods, or state budget shortfalls resulting in cuts in jobs and services, we've all felt the effects of an unaccountable Wall Street. And now, we all have an opportunity to do our part to hold banks accountable.
Today, thousands of Americans -- workers and small business owners, students and retirees, clergy and veterans, are forcing a Showdown on Wall Street, marching directly to the scene of the crime.
The timing makes this mobilization incredibly relevant. Three times this week Senate Democrats brought a Wall Street reform bill to the floor to begin debate only to have Senate Republicans filibuster it each time. Last night, amidst threat of an all night session, Republicans finally gave in and voted to let discussion begin on a long overdue banking reform package.
So, today, over two years since the Federal Reserve helped facilitate the bailout and fire sale of Bear Stearns, the Senate will finally begin debate on a bill to reform Wall Street. Soon after this begins, thousands of everyday people will head to Wall Street as the Senate showdown meets a showdown in the streets.
People are angry, and it makes sense. The same financial institutions that created the foreclosure crisis, sent the economy into a tailspin, needed hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailouts, kept handing out big bonuses, then had the gall to spend millions on K street lobbyists to defeat reforms that would protect people and our economy.
We'll be marching today, partially out of anger, but more so out of hope and optimism. An optimism that says we can have a banking system that treats people equally and fairly. A banking system that helps people build wealth, versus the current scenario where big banks strip wealth from families and communities. An optimism that we can have financial rules that protect consumers, where banks pay their fair share, that says if you are too big to fail, you are too big to exist.
As the Senate finally begins debate, addressing the issue of too big to fail is critical. Though Financial Services Chairman Chris Dodd's financial reform bill trends in the right direction, it needs to become much stronger, particularly as it relates to breaking up the big banks. The six biggest banks in this country - the banks that were so big they had to be bailed out - have gotten bigger, not smaller, since we rescued them. Members of both parties need to support proposals to break up the megabanks whose size puts our entire economic system at risk. If you would had been in Kansas City on Wednesday you would have heard hundreds of Midwesterners outside a Bank of America branch chanting "Bust up Big Banks, Bailout No Thanks." Whether in the Heartland, or anywhere else, I think the sentiment is widely shared.
We've all been hurt by an under-regulated Wall Street. And, we'd all benefit from strong Wall Street reform. That's why it's critical that we ALL participate in this moment in American history. Young and old, urban and rural, progressive or conservative, we should all join the movement to hold banks accountable and we can do that by being on Wall Street today.
You can also be part of a virtual march by clicking here