Bernie Sanders’ plans to bust up the banks

15 January 2016 11:24 am

In his latest campaign ad titled Two Visions, Bernie Sanders speaks directly to the camera.

“There are two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street,” he says. A camera pans across nondescript office buildings. “One says it’s O.K. to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do.”

Then comes an animated informational graphic. Mr. Sanders summarizes his plan: “Break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share,” to fund “health care for all” and “universal college education.”

We then see animated pictograms showing a faceless banker in a suit handing over a bag of cash to a couple with two children and a stroller. The close of the ad returns to Mr. Sanders: “Will they like me? No,” he says. “Will they begin to play by the rules if I’m president? You better believe it.”

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton. Her windfalls from Wall Street banks and other financial services firms include $3 million in paid speeches and $17 million in campaign contributions over the years.

As Patrick Healy in the New York Times points out, liberals deride Clinton for refusing to support reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that separated commercial and investment banks until its repeal under her husband President Bill Clinton. Significantly, Mr. Sanders favours its restoration. And for many Democrats, her strong support from wealthy donors and a big-money super PAC, undercuts her increasingly progressive rhetoric on free trade and other economic issues.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden praised Sanders for his “deep and real” yearning, “credibility” and “authenticity” on the issue of reducing income inequality. “It’s relatively new for Hillary to talk about that,” Biden said.

Think about it. If two candidates say that they are going to stand up to the corporations and billionaires that have pushed inequality to levels not seen for a century and one is getting millions of dollars from them while the other gets nothing, this is something that voters are going to take into account. Which one would they believe?

The critical part about the Sanders ad is that it also goes to the heart of the Democratic establishment. Let’s face it. President Barack Obama and the a whole heap of Democrat senators who passed the Dodd Frank reform bill also took money from Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders is proposing far-reaching, deep structural changes to the economy required to seriously combat soaring inequality, wage stagnation of the moment, introduce free education in colleges and universities and reform US Third World standard health care. And it could change politics in the US.

And that’s not going to happen as long as the political establishment is beholden to Wall Street by its contributions.