Tester, Baucus praise Wall Street crackdown

Lee State Bureau

HELENA – Both Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus, D-Mont., voted for the financial reform bill that passed the Senate on Thursday, while Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg voted against it in the House earlier.

The bill came in response to the 2008 financial meltdown on Wall Street and elsewhere.

"This reform finally gets rid of the notion that any private company can somehow be ‘too big to fail,' " said Tester, the only Senate Democrat to oppose both the bailouts of Wall Street and the U.S. auto industry. "I don't believe in bailouts. But I do believe in making sure folks are playing by the same rules."

It creates an independent consumer protection bureau to go after "bad actors" and require all players in the financial industry to play by the same rules, Tester said. It ends taxpayer-funded bailouts by requiring Wall Street banks to pay for their own liquidations if they fail.

Tester said he worked on several provisions that made it into the final bill. One makes sure that smaller banks pay their fair share for federal deposit insurance instead of an inequitable share as they now do.

He also pushed for the new Consumer Financial Projection Bureau to consider the impact of all rules on community banks and credit unions and the rural customers they serve before any rules are adopted. All but two Montana banks are considered community banks.

Baucus called the bill's passage "a historic day for Montanans and all Americans."

"By passing this strong reform legislation we are standing up for middle-class families and small businesses who have fallen victim to Wall Street's recklessness and greed," he said.

Rehberg blasted the bill when he voted against it in the House recently.

"Far from solving the financial crisis, this bill creates a huge new government bureaucracy and will lead to decreased credit availability for Montana's small businesses," he said. "It takes a special sort of delusion to think the solution to government problems is more government."