Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon on Wall Street reform. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Holding big banks accountable for the enormous economic crisis of recent years is about more than dollars and cents. It is about fairness and justice. It’s also about learning lessons from the mistakes of the past so we are not bound to repeat them.
“Those who cared only to boost their own holdings and accounts must be held to account. To those who gamed the system, the game is over. Wall Street’s ability to recklessly risk a family’s future must be a thing of the past. Those who dealt in deception and benefited from the cover of darkness must be called out and brought out into the daylight.
“That’s why the bill we will bring to the floor includes the strongest protections ever against Wall Street greed. It will give families more control than ever over their own finances, and give consumers more clarity so they can make the right financial decisions.
“Our bill will end taxpayer bailouts. It will hold Wall Street accountable for their excess and the harm it does. And it will ensure that banks fully disclose what they’re betting our money on. Our bill creates an independent agency to protect consumers, and stops banks from taking excessive risks with families’ hard-earned savings.
“We’re cracking down on the subprime mortgage scams and forcing big banks and credit card companies to deal more honestly with their customers. It’s a good bill. I support it because I support transparency, accountability and economic security. Those opposed to it favor secrecy, irresponsibility and reckless risk-taking.
“I’m sure my counterpart, the distinguished Republican Leader, has some thoughts to share on this reform as well. When the Senate hears from him in a few minutes, I assume he will continue to make the case he has made for the past week, here in the chamber and out over the airwaves.
“This bill is about accountability and honesty – so let’s hold the legislators to the same standard when they talk about it. Before my Republican friend repeats more false claims, let’s acknowledge some facts:
“Our bill protects taxpayers. It will not leave taxpayers with the tab, as the other side pretends. This bill is not a bailout. Republicans know that, though they refuse to say it. After all, if this were such a good deal for Wall Street bankers, why are they lobbying so hard against it?
“This bill is a bipartisan product. It includes many Republican ideas that were proposed during months of negotiations with Republican Senators. Chairman Dodd has worked for months with Ranking Member Shelby and Senator Corker. He has led bipartisan working groups and held bipartisan hearings. All of these meetings produced solid bipartisan ideas that will be in the legislation we bring to the floor.
“In November, Senator Shelby said Democrats and Republicans agreed on at least 70 percent of the bill. Last month, Senator Shelby said negotiators agreed on 80 percent. Senator Corker said the negotiations were constructive and said consensus is in sight.
“So the Republican Leadership’s claims that this is a one-sided effort don’t pass the laugh test. This plan is not partisan, as the other side pretends. Republicans know that, too, though again they refuse to say it.
“Republicans also refuse to admit whose side they’re on. Earlier this month, the Republican Leader and the head of the Republicans’ Senate campaign committee went to Wall Street. They met with the bankers and hedge-fund managers who benefited more than anyone from the broken system and are trying harder than anyone to stop us from fixing it.
“So every time Republicans make these false claims at this late stage of the process, what they are really saying is that they want to protect their special-interest friends on Wall Street.
“Rather than stand up for taxpayers and shareholders, they want to stand with the same bankers who cost 8 million American workers their jobs, devastated so many families’ economic security and jeopardized our nation’s economic stability. Every time Republicans repeat their tired talking points, what they are really saying is that they want kill reform.
“The American people who bore the burden of Wall Street’s greed couldn’t disagree more.
“We learned recently that the SEC is investigating Goldman Sachs for its role in the financial meltdown. I’m glad that the government is looking into Goldman and the other firms involved in this disaster. But this is not just about the executives, or the traders – it’s not just about the familiar faces and bold names.
“This is about our ability to trust in our financial system. It’s about families keeping their homes and knowing their savings will be safe. It’s about right and wrong. And again, it’s our job to get to the root of the problem. The culprits here are short-sightedness and selfishness. They are greed, deception and irresponsibility.
“Wall Street looked out only for their immediate, fleeting gain. So far, the same is guiding our Republican colleagues. Wall Street concerned itself with short-term success rather than think about what is right for our economy in the long run. So far, Senate Republicans have shown they share that same callous concern.
“Wall Street dealt in myths and misinformation, and with disregard for hardworking families. So far, Republicans are following the same game plan. Wall Street sees no need to ensure this kind of crisis never happens again. So far, neither do our Republican friends.
“Wall Street ran wild because there was no transparency. Well, the Senate Republican strategy has been as transparent as can be: all they want is to stop necessary reform in its tracks. I agree with Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, who last week called Republicans’ tactics ‘a shameless performance.’
“We’ve seen them run these plays before – on health care and many other issues. They didn’t work then, and they won’t work now. The system is broken. Consumers need better protection. Taxpayers need our guarantee that they will never again be called on to bail out a big bank.
“That is plain to see. You can draw a straight line from the lax oversight and excess greed on Wall Street to the collapse of the housing market on Main Street throughout Nevada and all across America. Here’s the difference: We want to change the rules. Republicans want to change the subject.”