Hi everyone. I'm Cal Cunningham, liveblogging from campaign headquarters in Lexington, North Carolina, where we're all working hard to replace Richard Burr in the U.S. Senate this November. As if we needed another reason to relieve Richard Burr of his duties there, this week he decided to grind an Armed Services Committee meeting to a halt in protest of the passage of health care reform. North Carolinians deserve better.
But as Meteor Blades wrote here on Monday, now that the health care debate is behind us (unless you're Richard Burr who's vowed to repeal it), Congress must get down to the business of reforming and re-regulating the financial sector. So today I'm releasing a comprehensive plan to crack down on Wall Street abuses, which details the specific financial regulations I'll fight for in the Senate.
One thing is certain: North Carolina's senior senator, Richard Burr, will have no part in it. He is far too deep in the pockets of banking interests. His idea of an appropriate response to the financial crisis? A run on the bank, telling his wife at the height of the crisis in 2008 (all while reassuring his constituents their money was safe):
“Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take. And I want you to tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday.”
Of course Burr himself helped create the conditions that put our financial system on the brink, led to staggering jobs losses, and continue to inspire little confidence in America's biggest banks. For 15 years he has carried the banking industry's water in Congress -- most notably supporting the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Par for the course for someone who calls federal regulation of the financial industry "intrusive" and "burdensome." Someone who voted for TARP, but opposed reining in massive bonuses for the bank executives who received our tax dollars.
I'm running to replace Richard Burr in the Senate and crack down on Wall Street abuses, just as I cracked down on unscrupulous military contractors as a prosecutor in Iraq. The plan I released today focuses on:
- Addressing “Too Big to Fail” financial institutions with more oversight, more robust capital requirements, the creation of an industry-funded “emergency lending fund,” and the requirement of a “living will” that provides a plan to wind down any financial institution that fails.
- Creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a single government agency in charge of regulating lending to consumers. A Consumer Financial Protection Agency should ensure lending is responsible and transparent, work to stop deceptive financial practices, increase transparency, and provide greater accountability in home lending, credit card lending, payday lending, and other consumer finance markets. It would also protect small investors and end excessive executive bonuses paid out by big banks and financial institutions that owe their existence to taxpayer-funded bailouts.
- Regulating the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market, which contained financial “weapons of mass destruction” – the exotic financial instruments which allowed dangerous and speculative gambling without regulation or transparency. Derivatives should be traded on an exchange.
- Loosening up access to credit for small businesses, and extending the expansion of SBA programs so they can thrive, hire new workers and create jobs.
Even if the financial reform package currently before Congress passes, it won't be enough to fully contain the culture of recklessness on Wall Street and regain our trust. We must take more aggressive action to reform the way banks and investment firms do business in this country, much as F.D.R. advanced bold banking reforms during the Great Depression. This will be one of my top priorities if elected to the Senate.
I want to hear your thoughts and ideas on financial reform and my new plan to ensure we never find ourselves on the brink and at the mercy of Wall Street's biggest banks ever again. We're also premiering the newest of our "Voices of North Carolina" video series today. Take a look:
I'm sticking around for bit, and look forward to joining the discussion in the comments!