At a subcommittee hearing related to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, reminded her colleagues as to why bold action was needed in the aftermath of the worst crisis since the Great Depression. She also underscored Dodd-Frank’s popularity with the American public and reiterated the few legislative days left until the Export-Import Bank closes its doors.
Her statement follows:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before I begin, I’d like to remind my Republican colleagues that after today, there will be just 23 legislative days left until the Export-Import Bank closes its doors – and this committee has yet to hold a hearing on reauthorization.
When the market crashed in 1929, it sent shockwaves through the world economy. Stock prices plummeted. About a third of all U.S. banks failed. A quarter of Americans were out of work. Shantytowns filled with desperate roving workers sprung up, often next to soup kitchens.
Knowing that something had to be done to restore confidence, the Congress and President Roosevelt ushered in bold and smart financial reform – we created the SEC; we helped reassure depositors with FDIC insurance; and we separated speculative activity from retail banking.
In the post-war period that followed, things weren’t always great – especially for African-Americans and others who were unconstitutionally denied access to the fruits of American productivity. But we didn’t experience any more devastating financial crises.
Then, in the 1980s, the deregulation of our financial system started to gain steam. Congress deregulated thrifts. Banking regulators slowly allowed retail banks to encroach into more investment banking. And Congress sealed the deal by passing legislation tearing down that wall completely – legislation I voted against.
Eventually, these many small actions, combined with regulators’ failure to act, culminated in the largest financial crisis since the 1929 crash.
So again, Congress was pushed by the American public to act boldly. We passed the Dodd-Frank Act to create a new Bureau to protect consumers; to create transparency in the previously opaque derivatives markets; and to create sensible rules of the road for mortgages.
Dodd-Frank may not be perfect, but I am confident we did the right thing – even in the face of tremendous opposition from lobbyists with a lot to lose.
And by a three-to-one margin, voters agree that getting tougher on Wall Street will help prevent future crises.