This month, Americans for Financial Reform and our allies -- including Public Citizen, CREDO, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Dr. Mitchell Gershten (a private citizen), and MoveOn.org -- reached an incredible milestone: more than 600,000 people signing petitions of support for the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.
For over half a century, the Depression-era law known as Glass-Steagall kept traditional banks separate from the high-risk world of investment banks and hedge funds. Uncle Sam agreed to insure our deposits. And the banks, in return, agreed not to use those deposits for gambling in the Wall Street casino. That all changed with the industry-backed deregulation of the 1980s and '90s. Once again, banks gained the ability to play risky games with government-backed funds, setting the stage for the financial and economic meltdown of 2008.
After Senators Elizabeth Warren, John McCain, Maria Cantwell, and Angus King introduced their bill to bring back Glass-Steagall last year, we wanted to show the strength of the support for making the biggest banks simpler and smaller and once again ending the public subsidy to Wall Street speculation.
And so we started organizing, and with the help of our allies and individual citizens, identified 600,000-plus supporters for this important reform. The flash drive that included all of those names was small, but our hand-delivery of the petition to the U.S. Senate one year after the bill was introduced made quite an impression.
We made our first delivery, but that is just a start. It's not too late to sign on and add to the call as we continue to organize and continue to take names of support for reinstating Glass-Steagall.
Wall Street banks wield enormous influence in Washington, and big change doesn't happen overnight. But we're going to keep working toward a financial system that better serves consumers, small businesses and the nation as a whole -- together.