Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold


On the Financial Regulatory Reform Bill

“The bill does not eliminate the risk to our economy posed by ‘too big to fail’ financial firms, nor does it restore the proven safeguards established after the Great Depression, which separated Main Street banks from big Wall Street firms and are essential to preventing another economic meltdown.  The recent financial crisis triggered the nation’s worst recession since the Great Depression.  The bill should have included reforms to prevent another such crisis.  Regrettably, it did not.”

Feingold’s Record of Standing Up to Wall Street

Feingold has consistently fought to protect Wisconsinites from the recklessness of Wall Street. For the last thirty years, Presidents and members of Congress from both parties have given in to Wall Street lobbyists, paving the way for the creation of massive Wall Street entities and removing essential protections for our economy. Time and again, Feingold has opposed efforts to weaken those critical safeguards. That has been true on the financial regulation bill in the Senate, and throughout his time in the U.S. Senate and the Wisconsin State Senate.

A Strong Record, a Leading Voice

  • Feingold voted against the Wall Street bailout, in large part because it failed to rein in Wall Street sufficiently and prevent another economic meltdown.
  • Feingold is one of only eight senators who opposed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which tore down the protective firewalls between commercial banking and Wall Street investment firms.  That effort undid the Glass-Steagall Act, banking reforms established in the wake of the Great Depression.
  • Feingold is one of four senators who opposed the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Act of 1994, which accelerated the concentration of financial assets, and the creation of “too big to fail” firms.

Feingold was Chair of the Wisconsin State Senate Banking Committee, where, among other efforts, he fought against enactment of the interstate banking law.  That law resulted in the concentration of financial assets and in most larger Wisconsin banks being bought up by out-of-state banks.

Working for Real Reform in the Financial Regulation Debate

Feingold cosponsored a number of key amendments to ensure that banks are no longer too big to fail, and that depression-era reforms to create a firewall between Wall Street and Main Street are restored, among other critical issues.  None of these amendments were included in the final bill, which is why it failed Feingold’s test for real reform.  Amendments Feingold cosponsored included:

  • Cantwell-McCain-Feingold amendment to restore the Glass-Steagall firewall between Wall Street and Main Street
  • Senator Dorgan’s “too big to fail” amendment, which requires that no financial entity be permitted to become so large that its failure threatens the financial stability of the U.S.
  • Brown-Kaufman amendment proposing strict limits on the size of financial institutions
  • Dorgan amendment to ban so-called naked credit default swaps, speculative bets that played a role in the economic crisis
  • Merkley-Levin amendment to prohibit any bank with government insured deposits from engaging in high-risk finance, like investing in hedge funds or private equity funds

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