WASHINGTON, April 29 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that a growing bipartisan coalition supports his amendment to the financial reform bill to make the Federal Reserve divulge the names of financial institutions that took trillions of dollars in secret loans.
The measure that brought together Sanders and a growing list of Democratic and Republican senators is similar to legislation by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) that already was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives.
Sanders’ Senate amendment has been endorsed by a wide spectrum of public interest organizations. Backers include Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 250 consumer, employee, investor, community and civil rights groups including the AFL-CIO and AARP. Other supporters include Americans for Tax Reform; the Campaign for Liberty; the Citizens Against Government Waste; the Rutherford Institute; the Eagle Forum and others.
“While the Fed was providing trillions of dollars at virtually no interest to some of the largest financial institutions in this country, millions of Americans were losing their jobs, homes, life savings, and ability to send their kids to college as a direct result of the greed and recklessness of the same Wall Street firms the Fed was propping up,” Sanders said. “The American people have a right to know who is receiving these top-secret Fed funds.”
What is known about the multi-trillion-dollar loan program is that since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008 the Federal Reserve helped prop up some of the world’s largest financial institutions with more than $2 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and guarantees. What is not known are the names of the banks that took the hidden taxpayer subsidies, the amount of money each received nor the loan terms.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeatedly rebuffed requests from Sanders and others to name the loan recipients. Bernanke withheld the information despite calls for public disclosure by big majorities in the House and Senate. The Fed also is fighting judgments by two federal courts that ordered the central bank to divulge the information sought in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits by Bloomberg News and other news organizations.
The insistence by the Fed on withholding the information is in stark contrast to the additional $700 billion for Wall Street bailouts approved by Congress under the Troubled Asset Relief program. The recipients of those funds were posted on the Web site of the Treasury Department, which administered the program separately from the controversial Fed loans.
“Let's be clear,” Sanders said. “This money does not belong to the Federal Reserve. It belongs to the American people, and the American people have a right to know where their taxpayer dollars are going.