THE BLOG
12/01/2013 06:57 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2014

We Put a Big Hurt On the Big Banks

According to the D.C. playbook, when I was elected to minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, I was supposed to divide my time equally between:
  1. Twiddling my thumbs, and
  2. Bringing my hands together in prayer -- praying that the House Democrats would win the 2014 election.
Well, I tossed out that playbook. And you and I are writing a different playbook -- based on action. We are paying attention, working hard, and getting good things done.

A few weeks ago, I discovered a novel way for you and me, together, to help prevent any more Wall Street bailouts.

Federal bank regulators have proposed new rules that would require huge Wall Street banks (those deemed "too big to fail") to keep an extra $89 billion on hand, to cover unforeseen losses. The regulators asked for public comments. And boy, did we ever comment.

All I had to do was let you know about it, and the responses came pouring into our website, NoBankWelfare.com. Here are some examples:

"One bailout was one too many." -- Kathleen in Nevada

"Lost all my hard-earned money in 2008. Don't want a replay." -- Turia in Oregon

"STOP THE GLUTTONY!!" -- Steven in Florida

All told, more than 100,000 of us submitted comments, which I then delivered to the federal regulators. Amazing! As far as we know, that's the largest number of comments these bank regulators have ever received. For that, we should all feel very proud.

But I am also a little shocked. Why? Because I was the first Member of Congress to undertake any sort of meaningful action on this. And I don't even sit on the House Financial Services Committee, which conducts oversight on the banks. (Although under the Tea Party Republicans, "oversee" generally means "overlook.")

In any case, you and I, working together, put a big hurt on the big banks. They squealed like stuck pigs. In their comments to the regulators, the suits on Wall Street used twenty-dollar words like "excessive" and "highly arbitrary" to condemn the proposed commonsense requirements. They complained that the rules would put them at a disadvantage against other banks. Oh, poor, poor Wall Street banks! We feel so sorry for you! Show us your booboo, and we will kiss it and make you feel better.

And after that, I respectfully would ask the big banks on Wall Street please to explain to us what they've done to prevent a replay of 2008, when they wiped out one-fifth of the entire wealth of this nation, accumulated over two centuries, in only 18 months. Lots of just plain folks lost their jobs, their savings and their homes, while Wall Street bankers laughed all the way to the bank -- their bank.

Politics is a team sport, and that's the way it was here. I want to thank the progressive groups who joined in this effort: the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), CREDO Action and Progressives United. We are all in this together, fighting to prevent any more big bank bailouts, and make Wall Street clean up its own messes. Thank you.

You can count on this: The People, united, will never be defeated.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson