Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
It’s been more than a year and a half since Lehman Brothers went bust and the entire edifice of Wall Street came tumbling down, only to be put back together by trillions of taxpayer dollars.
And still, to this day, Congress hasn’t passed any financial reform.
On Monday, Chris Dodd finally unveiled the Democrats’ Senate bill. Like the House bill, it at least does something to address the problems that brought this terrible recession upon us, like creating a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau to increase regulation.
But it’s not nearly enough.
That bureau, in the Senate version, doesn’t have sufficient independent power, for one thing.
Plus, neither the House bill nor the Senate bill breaks up the big banks that are “too big to fail.”
Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill would make sure that all the derivatives and all the swaps and all the other arcane instruments the banks have been playing with would now be regulated.
Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill would reinstate Glass-Steagall, the New Deal law that built a wall between commercial banking and investment banking.
And neither the House bill nor the Senate bill would substantially improve on the way the Federal Reserve operates, much less bring it under democratic control.
Dodd’s bill does have some advantages over the House bill. It “restricts banks from proprietary trading and investing in or owning hedge funds and private equity funds,” the New York Times notes, whereas the House bill does none of that.
And the Senate bill would at least have the President appoint the head of the New York Fed, instead of letting the bankers on the board of directors of the New York Fed do it.
But given the colossal damage the big banks have wreaked, and the systemic flaws this scandal has exposed, Congress is not responding with the requisite vigor.
It’s amazing that the big banks have skated free for so long, and it looks like they’ll be able to keep on gliding, even after all their destructiveness.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. To subscribe for just $14.97 a year, just click here.