An Oregon Perspective: Taking Back our Economy

The reach of last year’s economic collapse has extended far beyond Wall Street.  Because of the bad bets made by the big banks, thousands of Oregonians have lost their homes and hundreds of thousands more have lost their jobs.

It seems obvious that our financial system needs significant reform and increased transparency, but the industry is just as freewheeling and unregulated as it was before crashing our economy.  

And, astonishingly, many of the Wall Street banks – the same banks that taxpayers bailed out over the last year – have spent millions deploying lobbyists to Washington to weaken or stop any real reform of our financial system.  They prefer to continue setting their own rules and relying on American taxpayers to pay for the huge risks they take.

Failing to restore accountability and transparency to our financial system is like cleaning up the wreckage of the pile-up on the highway, but not putting in place the road signs to prevent it from happening again.  If we continue to rely on the same flawed regulatory system, we’re setting our economy up for future financial failure.

We have to take action to make our financial system work for middle-class families and small businesses again.  Starting this week, I’ll be joining my colleagues in the Senate Banking Committee to move forward on a package of reforms to do just that.

I’ll be fighting to make sure that the bill we send to the president includes a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to weed out the tricks and traps often incorporated into consumer financial products.  

To be effective, the reform bill also has to include stronger regulations of complex transactions like derivatives trading and the means for regulators to stop firms from becoming “too big to fail” and bringing down the entire system.

Oregon families are still hurting from the damage done by the big Wall Street banks.  It’s time to fix the financial system to make sure the banks can’t turn around and gamble the American economy into another economic crisis.