Senate Democrats’ legislation overhauling the financial regulatory system is “good” as far as it goes (see Daily GPI, April 30), but it needs “stronger” language, including a provision to break up the big banks, said an official with National People’s Action (NPA).
NPA Executive Director George Goehl’s remarks were made during a teleconference Friday — one day after more than 10,000 people marched on Wall Street to send a message that the time for reform is now.
“We will not back down against the big banks [that] have already poured millions of dollars into advertising and congressional lobbying to ‘water down'” the financial regulatory reform measure, said Heather Booth, director of Americans for Financial Reform, which includes 200 organizations composed of civil rights advocates, think tanks, small business and other groups.
“We’ve called this [a] showdown: Main Street versus Wall Street,” she said. Booth estimated that Wall Street banks are spending $1.4 million a day and have more than 1,500 lobbyists whose goal is to weaken the reform legislation now on the Senate floor.
The nation has “come into the home stretch of the big fight” over financial regulatory reform, said Heather L. Slavkin, senior legal and policy advisor of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment. “We’re focused on amendments that would address some of the key issues that I find most egregious in the legislation.
“With regard to derivatives, we expect amendments to weaken the fiduciary duty to pension funds and municipalities, and to exempt pension funds and other entities from the transparency and safety and soundness [requirements] that exist in the bill currently. We’re concerned about any and all amendments that would weaken it [the bill], including the proposal that has been advanced by [financier] Warren Buffett,” Slavkin said.
Buffett is seeking to grandfather existing derivatives contracts from the requirements in the reform measure, averting a major financial hit for his company, Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway has a $63 billion derivatives portfolio, according to Barclays Capital.
The legislation on the Senate floor is a blend of the proposals that came out of the Senate Banking Committee in March and the Senate Agriculture Committee in April (see Daily GPI, April 22; March 24).
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