Bernie Sanders’ criticisms of the American financial system have extended all the way to a law he voted for while in Congress: the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
One of Dodd-Frank’s authors, Barney Frank, recently sat down with Slate to toss some of that criticism back in Bernie’s direction. Barney seemed quite unimpressed overall with the Sanders campaign and seemed to indicate that he did not have faith in the reforms that the Vermont senator had proposed.
As one of Dodd-Frank’s primary architects, Barney stood by what the bill had accomplished despite the fact that some, like Bernie, have criticized that it did not go far enough in breaking up major financial institutions. Sanders, the Slate journalist stated, believes that the system is “corrupt fundamentally and that we don’t want to merely make it slightly more stable.” Barney rejects this notion.
“Well if that’s the case [his approach] is even dumber than I thought. The financial system is people lending money to other people so they can do things. I do think that he overstates it when he says, ‘they’re all corrupt.’ It’s simply not true.”
Frank continued to tear down Bernie’s record in Congress, saying that the senator had almost nothing to his name in terms of progress over the course of such a long career. Barney seemed to believe that this was, at least partially, due to the way that Sanders presented himself on issues like Wall Street reform.
“Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that’s because of the role he stakes out. It is harder to get things done in the American political system than a lot of people realize, and what happens is they blame the people in office for the system. And that’s the same with the Tea Party. It’s ‘I voted for these Republicans, we have a Republican Congress, we voted for them, they took over Congress, they didn’t accomplish anything.’ You gotta win at least two elections in a row.”
Although Bernie voted for Dodd-Frank, he has been vocal about its shortcomings. Last year, Sanders invoked the law’s name while pushing for legislation that would break up America’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, State Street Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co, reported Bloomberg.
“Dodd-Frank did not end much of the casino-style gambling… I fear very much [that the financial system is weaker than people realized].”
Barney says Bernie’s statements about Dodd-Frank are ludicrous and criticized the media for not being more critical of the Democratic Socialist candidate’s proposed reforms and Congressional record. He specifically called out Sanders’ plan to re-implement Glass-Steagall, a Great Depression-era reform that banned mixing commercial and investment banking in the same institution, reported the New York Times. Some blame the act’s 1999 repeal — at the hands of both Bill Clinton and Congress — for the 2008 financial crisis.
“And by the way, when it comes to specifics, the only specific I have heard is Glass-Steagall, which makes very little change in the finance system… I think he gets a pass from the media. Other than Glass-Steagall, what did he propose in 2009 and 2010 when he was a senator when we were dealing with this? The answer is nothing. Why haven’t you looked at his record?”
Disagreements over financial reforms aside, the Dodd-Frank author, Barney, reminded the interviewer that Bernie Sanders could be headed back to Congress soon, as he’s behind in both delegates and the popular vote in the primary. He also scoffed at how some of his supporters complained about voter suppression when the senator had fared best in caucuses, which Frank argued were detrimental to democracy for their lengthy time commitments.
[Photo by Win McNamee and Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]