THE BLOG

"Don't Lie, Don't Steal" New Rules for Wall Street

04/03/2009 09:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What does a warehouse worker in Columbus, Ohio, have in common with Nicolas Sarkozy? It's certainly not the foie gras. They both think deregulation of the financial industry in the United States has been a disaster.

Workers support President Obama and the G-20 in rescuing the global economy by learning from our recent past. Greedy corporate executives rewrote the rules, stole billions of dollars and left our economy in flames. The corporate agenda and financial deregulation was a bust. Now workers stand with Obama and the G-20 in calling for re-regulation. We need to re-write the rules and make corporations play by them.

What's the framework? Transparency, accountability and limits on risk--or "don't lie, don't steal and don't gamble." More than 130 consumer, labor, community, civil rights, housing and investor groups recently endorsed these principles, which were first laid out in the Congressional Oversight Panel's Special Report on Regulatory Reform. Obama's economic recovery program and budget are essential, but new rules for Wall Street may be the most important solution in the long run.

Working America is going to Main Street to challenge Wall Street lobbyists to support Obama's proposals to regulate the financial industry. Our canvassers launched a "Don't Lie, Don't Steal" campaign this week. Working America supports Obama's proposals and wants to make sure the regulator overseeing system-wide risk is fully transparent to the public--basically, we want a strong Wall Street cop who will be accountable.

The Obama administration's plan for financial re-regulation, announced last week, is a positive framework for developing comprehensive and effective financial regulation that works for all. The G-20's move to tighten restrictions on financial institutions is also an opportunity to move the economy in the right direction. Like President Obama and the G-20, today's workers know the only way to make the system work for all of America is to make corporations play by the rules, and to build a fairer and more sustainable world economy for the future.

Donna Cavey, 61, is an unemployed worker and one of the 2.5 million Working America members. She changed her mind about market regulations after she lost her job as a mortgage settlement officer in 2007--after being in the real estate industry for more than 30 years in Pasadena, Maryland. "The industry went to hell in a handbasket," she says. Since then, she has filed more than 3,000 job applications, but has not found work. Before the real estate market crashed and burned, Cavey resisted regulation on corporations. She now feels that what corporations need is more oversight and more regulation. Corporations can't gamble with our nation's future, and they should use any bailout money to create fair, sustainable jobs, she says.

This week a global union delegation met in London on behalf of workers like Cavey to call on the G-20 to create a plan that incorporates:

a coordinated international recovery and sustainable growth plan to create jobs and ensure public investment; nationalization of insolvent banks and new financial regulations; action to combat the risk of wage deflation and reverse decades of increasing inequality; far-reaching action on global warming; and a new international legal framework to regulate the global economy, including reform of global financial and economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, OECD and the World Trade Organization.

America's workers need Obama to dedicate more funds to the crisis, but they also need those funds to create more jobs. Without strong regulations, tossing government bucks at the institutions that started the fire is like throwing gas on the flames. Workers support Obama and the G-20 in helping America to get back to work. They want us to reel in the corporations who lied, cheated and gambled away trillions of dollars, throwing the economy into peril. Now, without oversight, executives of these corporations would use government money only for golden parachutes for themselves, leaving the rest of us in the burning building.

At the G-20, Obama helped ensure regulations and reforms to our economy to make the economy work for working Americans like Donna Cavey. Anything less would only get us halfway there, and let the flames of the crisis devour even more of what America has worked so hard to build.