Wall Street reform bill no ‘bailout’ | Senate bill would put referees on Wall Street

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by Jon Tester

You’ve probably already seen the ads on TV or heard them on the radio. Out-of-state groups are shelling out millions to sway your opinion on a very important bill I’m working on in the Senate Banking Committee — a bill that finally ends the era of “too big to fail” on Wall Street.

I can see why some folks with a lot of money to burn don’t want this bill to pass. They don’t want it to pass because it finally puts referees on Wall Street. And without refs on Wall Street, business has been brisk for a handful of well-off Americans.

But our entire economy almost collapsed a year and a half ago because there were no referees on Wall Street. And sadly, hardworking, honest taxpayers — and our entire economy — paid the price.

Good bipartisan ideas

The bailouts President Bush asked for in 2008 weren’t the answer. That’s why I voted against both of them.

The best way to fix this problem — and to prevent it from happening again — is to rewrite the rules, to require big banks and huge financial institutions to play by those rules. And to take “too big to fail” out of the equation.

The Wall Street reform bill, which combines good ideas from Republicans and Democrats, does just that.

It would create a bipartisan council of regulators to serve an “advance warning system” to snuff out problems well before they hurt the entire economy. It would streamline existing regulators, giving them the power to write rules and enforce them on America’s biggest banks.

The bill would not, however, affect Montana’s banks. Montana’s Main Street banks and credit unions played by the rules during the financial crisis. I made sure this bill wouldn’t create more hassles or costs for banks that do honest business.

A few weeks ago, a secretive organization called the Committee for Truth in Politics saturated Montana’s airwaves with TV and radio ads. The ads called Wall Street reform a “bailout.”

Why? Good question. Calling the Wall Street reform a “bailout” — even though it isn’t — is a poll-tested way get folks to be against it.

In response to those ads, thousands of callers were automatically patched into my office to tell me, “vote against the bailout.” Many callers were relieved and confused to learn that Wall Street reform is not a bailout, no matter how you spin it. This bill is just the opposite.

Protecting good actors

The fact is, Wall Street reform would finally make some much-needed changes to the way things work, to protect the good actors on Main Street and across rural America from the bad actors on Wall Street. And it ends “too big to fail.”

I’ve posted the Wall Street reform bill online at Tester.senate.gov/legislation. You can also follow the progress of the bill at Facebook.com/senatortester. As this very important legislation moves through Congress, I’ll make sure it’s the best possible bill for Montanans.

And I’ll make sure we have an honest debate based on the facts.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., serves on the Senate Banking Committee.