Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon regarding efforts to hold Wall Street accountable. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Wall Street reform is as complex as the financial instruments that fueled a worldwide recession.
“But voting to start debating Wall Street reform is as simple as right and wrong.
“This bill and this debate are about our ability to trust our financial system again. They are about giving families the peace of mind that they will be able to keep their homes, and that their savings will be safe.
“We have a responsibility to bring accountability to Wall Street because each of us is accountable to the American people. We owe our state’s constituents and our nation’s taxpayers the promise that they will never again have to endure another financial crisis like the last one.
“Today’s vote to begin debate on the Wall Street accountability bill will answer many questions.
“It will reveal who believes we need to strengthen oversight of Wall Street, and who does not.
“It will demonstrate who believes we need to strengthen protections for consumers, and who does not.
“And in light of the extraordinary effort we’ve seen from the Republican leadership, it will force each Senator to publicly proclaim whether party unity is more important than economic security.
“I know many on the other side would like to pretend that’s not what’s at stake. But we’re not fooled, and neither are the American people – two-thirds of whom, we learned today, support us cracking down on Wall Street.
“I was in four different counties in Nevada this weekend. I heard the same thing everywhere I went and from everyone with whom I spoke: they said, get this done. So many Nevadans are suffering because of the mess Wall Street created, and they know better than anyone that we have to fix it.
“Democrats agree. That’s why we stand for guaranteeing taxpayers that they will never again be asked to bail out a big bank, and that no Wall Street firm can become too big to fail.
“Democrats stand for giving families more control over their own finances, and for giving consumers more clarity so they can make the right financial decisions.
“Democrats stand for protecting hardworking Americans’ life savings from Wall Street’s gambling.
“And we stand for making our financial system more transparent so we can rein in risky bets before it’s too late.
“In short, Democrats stand for bringing more accountability and transparency to Wall Street.
“But as far as I can tell, the only thing Republicans stand for is standing together. They’ve boasted about banning together at all costs – even at the cost of our national economy. But a party that stands with Wall Street is a party that stands against families and against fairness.
“Among the many reasons we need to reform Wall Street is that those who work there have conspired for too long under the cover of darkness. They have acted recklessly because they know they won’t be held accountable for their risks. And they don’t think twice about using working families as pawns in their get-rich-quick schemes.
“We know Wall Street doesn’t like this bill. Of course it doesn’t – it changes the system big bankers and hedge-fund managers have taken advantage of for years.
“Look at the rules of the road on Wall Street: traders get to gamble away someone else’s money with little risk and large reward. They get to take home their winnings and ask taxpayers to save them from their losses.
“That’s how the system worked when they brought our economy to the brink of collapse. The problem is that it’s the way the system still works today.
“That’s what we’re going to correct with this bill – a bill that is the product of months of bipartisan discussion, a bill that embraces Republicans’ ideas and Democrats’ ideas.
“This afternoon’s vote is a vote merely to begin debate. It is not the end of the process – just the beginning.
“My Republican colleagues certainly don’t hesitate to debate this bill in press conferences and interviews. So why would Senators object to debating it in the Senate itself?
“Moving to this bill will move this issue from the sidelines to the playing field.
“It will bring these proposals onto the Senate floor so we can amend them, improve them and act upon them. It will ensure this debate is part of the legislative process broadcast live on television so every American around the country can watch and weigh it. Let’s have that debate.
“There’s one more reason we need to reform how our financial system works: For too long, too many on Wall Street have bet on failure. We’ll see this afternoon whether enough Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to bet on failure, too.”