Bernie Sanders says fraud is Wall Street’s business model
His Tuesday afternoon speech about Wall Street was exactly what you would expect from Bernie Sanders on one of his signature issues: Focused. Fiery. And… well… fabulous.
The Vermont Senator didn’t pull any punches: “Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance. These are some of the words that best describe the reality of Wall Street today.” Fraud, he declared, “is not the exception to the rule. It is the rule. And in a very weak regulatory climate the likelihood is that Wall Street gets away with a lot more illegal behavior than we know of.”
He challenged front-running candidate Hillary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street, saying her plans for reining it in amount to “a few more fees and regulations on the financial industry.” He cited the critique of former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich who has said this approach “would only invite more dilution and finagle.”
Sanders, who has long described himself as a “democratic socialist”—which, in American parlance, is more akin to the social democratic approaches of many European governments—vowed that he would in his first 100 days as president come up with a list of “too big to fail” institutions and that he would seek to break them up within a year of taking office. He also called for an end to “usury” and pledged to seek a ceiling on credit card interest rates of 15 percent and ATM fees of $2.
“To those on Wall Street who may be listening to my remarks, and I am sure there are many of them, let me be clear. Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the very fabric of our nation. And here is a New Year’s resolution that I will keep if elected president. If Wall Street does not end its greed, we will end it for them. We will no longer tolerate an economy and a political system that has been rigged by Wall Street to benefit the wealthiest Americans in this country at the expense of everyone else.
While President Obama deserves credit [for] improving this economy after the Wall Street crash, the reality is that a lot of unfinished business remains to be done. Our goal must be to create a financial system and an economy that works for all of our people, not just a handful of billionaires. That means we have to end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street, the policy of ‘too big to fail’.”
Sanders noted that he is not the only one saying Wall Street is a fraud. According to a study conducted at the University of Notre Dame last year, he said 51 percent of Wall Street executives making more than $ 500,000 a year said they thought it likely their competitors have engaged in unethical or illegal activity to gain advantage in the market.
More than a third of these top financial executives said they have personally witnessed or otherwise had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. And a fourth said they had signed or had been asked to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from reporting unethical or illegal activities.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)