Now that the Senate Republicans have abandoned their filibuster (after perusing the public opinion polls on Wall Street and observing the tap-dancing by Goldman Sachs execs at the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations hearings, I assume) financial reform legislation is set for debate.
Richard Eskow at the Huffington Post has a one-question test we can apply to our elected representatives to tell if they are serious about reforming the financial system or just being a posturing, pontificating blowhard—something that comes naturally to most politicians.
“This quick, easy-to-use test can be applied from the comfort of your own home (if you still have one), from that third job you’ve got to work every evening (too bad you can’t help the kids with homework anymore) … why you can even use it while you’re waiting on line to collect the last of your unemployment benefits!
As long as there’s a television droning away in the waiting area while you wait for that job interview, or a newspaper somebody left behind on that park bench, as long as you can learn how your politician voted, you can learn whether he’s really on your side or just another bank lackey.
Here’s the test: Will they vote to break up the big banks or not? It’s as simple as that … really.
…Yesterday Sens. Ted Kaufman and Sherrod Brown officially introduced an amendment that limits the size of banks and the amount of risk they can take. Under this amendment, no bank could become either so big or so leveraged that its collapse could threaten the economy… An identical amendment was introduced in the House by Reps Brad Miller, Keith Ellison, Steve Cohen, and Ben Chandler.
…What’s striking about the proposal is how simple and effective it is. No bank could hold more than 10% of the nation’s deposits, nor could it leverage (take risks with) sums that amount to more than 2% of the GDP.
What’s also striking is how few institutions it would affect. Only the three biggest banks would be affected by the size limit, and the cap on liabilities would only affect an estimate nine institutions or so.
These amendments offer our representatives in the House and Senate a simple choice: Support a safer and more rational banking system, or be counted among those whose votes are being swayed by the influence of Wall Street money. And they give the rest of us an invaluable tool. We’ll be able to see whether our leaders really means those words about “too big to fail” and “no more bailouts” by seeing whether or not they vote for these amendments.
If they do, they’ve passed the test. If they don’t, they’ve failed. Simple as that.
Here’s the greatest benefit this new test offers to frustrated voters everywhere. It lets us say to politicians, once and for all, on one of the most crucial issues of our day, those words every citizen longs to say to a long-winded public servant:
Put up or shut up.”