Sanders: Stand Up to Wall Street, Break Up Big Banks

SAN FRANCISCO, March 31 – Speaking last night at the Commonwealth Club of California, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said it is time to break up “too-big-to-fail” Wall Street banks that have grown larger and more powerful since taxpayers bailed them out after the 2008 financial collapse.

“No single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure could send the world economy into another financial crisis.  If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ comments came amid published reports that executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to put financial pressure on Senate Democrats to muzzle criticism of the big banks. “It has become abundantly clear,” Sanders said, “that Congress does not regulate Wall Street but Wall Street regulates Congress.”                                                      

Today, the nation’s largest banks have over $9.8 trillion in assets — the equivalent of about 60 percent of GDP.  They issue over half of the mortgages and more than two-thirds of the credit cards in America.

A long-time advocate of legislation to break up the biggest Wall Street banks, Sanders soon will reintroduce legislation to break up the biggest Wall Street banks.

The legislation would give the Treasury Department 90 days to identify commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds and insurance companies whose “failure would have a catastrophic effect on the stability of either the financial system or the United States economy without substantial government assistance.”

In the Commonwealth Club remarks, Sanders also talked about why no Wall Street bankers were held accountable for the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior that brought on the worst recession since the Great Depression.

“We have a situation now where Wall Street banks are not only too big to fail, they are too big to jail,” Sanders said.