April 20, 2010
Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor this morning regarding efforts to hold Wall Street accountable. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Wall Street reform is a complex subject. Few of us are experts in derivatives trading or credit default swaps or the intricacies of securities.
"But the principle before us is really quite simple: You either believe that we need to strengthen oversight of Wall Street, or you don't.
"You either believe that we need to strengthen protections for consumers, or you don't.
"I believe in those principles and in fixing what's broken.
"That's what this good reform will do. It will enforce the strongest protections ever against Wall Street greed. It will give families more control over their own finances, and give consumers more clarity so they can make the right financial decisions.
"It will guarantee taxpayers that they will never again be asked to bail out a big bank.
"It will also ensure no bank can become too big to fail, and shield families' life savings from Wall Street's gambling.
"It will make the system more transparent so we can catch bankers' excesses – and then it will hold them accountable.
"Our bill contains Republican ideas and Democratic ideas. It's good for consumers, and for everyone who favors economic security over reckless risk-taking.
"As I said, some elements of this reform are complicated. Here's one part that's especially hard to follow: Like the most complex commodity, the Republican reaction to cleaning up Wall Street is difficult to understand.
"The bill we'll bring to the floor is the result of months of bipartisan meetings, investigations, negotiations and consensus. But our Republican colleagues insist on pretending this is a partisan effort.
"The bill we'll bring to the floor puts an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts. It protects consumers. But our Republican friends insist on pretending this bill does the opposite.
"We know Wall Street doesn't like this bill. Of course it doesn't. Look at the rules of the road on Wall Street: they get to take your money – money that isn't their own – and gamble it away with little risk and large reward.
"They don't want us to touch a system that has let them take home their winnings and asked taxpayers to save them from their losses.
"They know that if we don't act, they won't be held accountable for their mistakes. And when things don't go their way, they know they'll get a mulligan.
"That's the way the system worked when our economy teetered on the brink of collapse. And it's the way the system still works today.
"That's what we have to change. With this Wall Street accountability bill, we will.
"So it's puzzling why Republicans are pretending that this bill to fix Wall Street is good for those who benefit from the fact it's broken.
"Like the bankers themselves, it seems Republicans care more about making short-term gains than they do about what's right for our economy in the long run.
"Some details of this debate might be complex, but the different sides are as clear as day.
"On one side are consumers and investors, families and businesses, and the vast majority of Americans who want us to make sure the financial crisis they just lived through can never happen again. They don't want us to just talk about it – they want us to do something about it. Democrats are on their side, and we're ready to act.
"On the other side sits Wall Street bankers – and they're sitting quite comfortably. They see nothing wrong with a system that privatizes their gains and socializes their losses. They don't want us to change a thing. Republicans, so far, have proven they're on Wall Street's side. I hope they'll reconsider."