The Senate is winning wide applause for finally approving comprehensive financial reform legislation for President Obama to sign into law.
Although some reform advocates complain the bill doesn’t go far enough, many others chose to focus on improvements that reform is expected to make. Among those voicing support for what has been called the most sweeping overhaul of the rules governing banks since the Great Depression is an organization that supports sustainable business practice.
Democrats picked up three GOP votes Thursday to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass the legislation on a vote of 60-39.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the left-leaning Vermont independent, called the overall legislation a “positive step forward” but he says that much more has to be done to end the greed and recklessness by the Wall Street financiers responsible for the worst economic collapse since the 1930s.
The senator faulted the legislation for not breaking up banks deemed “too big to fail,” noting that three of the four biggest banks in the nation are larger today than they were before taxpayers bailed them out in 2008.
“Business owners who know the difference between investment and gambling worked hard for passage of financial reform,” says Business for Shared Prosperity Director Holly Sklar. “Financial reform is an important step in moving us from a destructive casino economy to a productive sustainable economy.”
The head of the venerable Teamsters labor union says financial reform also will help turn around the nation’s dismal unemployment picture.
“Without tough regulation, our financial system was directing too much capital toward destroying jobs instead of creating them,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa says. “This bill takes important steps toward bringing back the wall between traditional banking and risky speculation.”
“Consumers will benefit from important protections in this bill. CEOs won’t be able to take unrestricted amounts of money from their corporations. Derivatives and private equity will be subject to much-needed regulation,” Hoffa says.
The bill lets the Securities and Exchange Commission require private-equity and hedge fund advisers to open their books to inspection. It also requires derivatives to be traded on exchanges or cleared in clearinghouses.
‘Creating Jobs Instead of Killing Them’
“Private equity firms destroyed too many companies and too many jobs to continue to operate without any oversight,” Hoffa says. “Derivatives have allowed a small group of investors to profit from wrecking healthy businesses. It’s time to end these practices and put our financial system to work creating jobs instead of killing them.”
Hoffa says he’s pleased that the bill includes an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB will write and enforce rules for most banks, mortgage lenders, credit-card and private student loan companies.
“Working families have had too much of their hard-earned money siphoned by unscrupulous financial institutions,” Hoffa says. “The CFPB has the authority and the independence to protect them.”
Meanwhile almost immediately after passage, even before Obama had had a chance to sign the bill into law, House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio called for its repeal.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.