Anniversary Sparks Renewed Efforts to Break Up the Banks

Thursday, November 12th marks the ten year anniversary of the repeal of the depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that protected consumers from casino-style gambling on Wall Street and prevented significant financial crises for almost 60 years. As Congress took up a series of bills this fall to restore confidence in the financial sector, notably lacking were any bills to break up the big banks and restore Glass-Steagall protections.

Until now! U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday, November 6th, introduced legislation to require the Treasury Department to identify the "too big to fail" institutions and break them up within a year so that their failure will no longer have a catastrophic effect on the United States or global economy. A growing list of prominent people from the left and the right support the notion of breaking up the banks, including former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, former head of the Department of Labor Robert Reich, and Republican Senator Richard Shelby. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) is considering similar legislation in the House.

Both Republicans and Democrats support meaningful reform. According to a national poll conducted for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), 72% of Independents and 57% of Republicans agree that: “The greed and risky decisions of banks and financial companies led to the financial crisis and recession, and it's time that Congress cracked down on their reckless practices." wants to give these citizens a voice in the fight and this week launched its Break Up the Banks initiative. Go to to support Sander's approach and tell Congress to Break up the Banks!

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is a reporter for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). She helped launch CMD's award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation and is a two-time recipient of the Sidney Prize for public interest journalism from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.