Wisconsin comes before Wall Street (Sen. Russ Feingold)

In 1999, I was one of eight senators to oppose repealing the Glass-Steagall protections that laid the groundwork more than a half-century of economic growth. And in 2008, I opposed the Wall Street bailout, known as TARP, in great part because it failed to include the reforms necessary to prevent another crisis.

I opposed the legislation that paved the way for the reckless practices of Wall Street, which sent our economy reeling, triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression and left millions of Americans to foot the bill. I will not now support a bill that leaves Wisconsinites vulnerable to another economic collapse.

You would think that the cataclysmic events over the past couple years would make a clear case for real reform. But despite its best opportunity in decades to enact meaningful reform, Washington did what it has done too many times before: caved to Wall Street.

Even Sen. Chris Dodd, one of the main architects of this bill, concedes it will not prevent another economic crisis, though that's exactly what this bill should do. We needed tough, serious reforms, but instead this legislation just papers over the biggest problems, giving Americans a false sense of security that is worse than no security at all.

When the Senate considered the bill, I pushed for meaningful reforms that would have restored the Glass-Steagall protections, the Depression-era reform that established a firewall between Main Street banks and Wall Street investment houses.

I also backed amendments that would have reined in "too big to fail" financial institutions and prevented them from growing too big in the future. But all of these efforts failed; some were even blocked from getting a vote. And once the final bill came back from conference negotiations, it had Wall Street's fingerprints all over it.

I agree with the Journal Sentinel that the bill includes some positive consumer protections. But after listening to Wisconsinites frustrated about the prospect of future bailouts, I cannot support a bill that simply doesn't get the job done.

I work for the people of Wisconsin, not Wall Street, and the people of Wisconsin deserve a bill that will protect them and their families from the pain of another financial crisis.

Cross-posted from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online

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