The Two Rules of Real Financial Reform

The first rule of real financial reform is that you can't stop fighting for it.

The second rule of real financial reform is that you CAN'T STOP fighting for it.

Big banks must be held accountable, consumers must have independent regulators looking out for their interests, and the casino economy must be ended. However, there will be no accountability, there will be no protection against future crises, and there will be no end to reckless greed and speculation unless people keep shouting and demanding it.

Last year, when the country was outraged over executive bonuses at AIG, a frightened House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass new restrictions on bank bonuses. But, when the outrage faded from the news, the bank lobbyists were still on Capitol Hill and the Senate failed to take any action. Those restrictions never became law, as the Senate continues to dawdle.

The clear lesson is that we can make reform happen, but we have to keep fighting for it. When we are quiet, the only people Senators hear are the army of Wall Street lobbyists on Capitol Hill. But, when we shout loudly enough, they hear us.

With the Senate Banking committee set to release their new financial regulation bill any day now, this statement was never truer.

We have to speak up for an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The CFPA must not be made subordinate to financial regulators who have banks, rather than consumers, as their primary interest. By only looking out for banks, those regulators got us into this mess in the first place.

We have to tell Senators to end the casino economy. Derivatives need to be traded on open exchanges, and can't have loopholes.

We have to speak up, because we cannot continue to allow 'too big too fail' institutions that play by 'heads they win, tails we lose' rules and rely on public bailouts. We need real limits on dangerous behavior like excessive leverage and speculation. And we need resolution authority that ensures that firms that do get in to trouble will be dissolved, not bailed out.

And we have to do this, because if we don't then the banks will not be held accountable, their dangerous greed will continue to spiral out of control, and we will never escape from the conditions that led to the financial crisis. We have to keep demanding real financial reform, because no one will do it for us, and nothing will change, if we don't.