In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cited the need to keep banks from engaging in risky investments like those which sparked the 2008 financial crisis as the primary reason she introduced this bill:
“Despite the progress since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten our economy. For fifty years, the original Glass-Steagall Act helped produce broad-based economic growth and avoid any major financial crisis. The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act will re-establish the wall between commercial and investment banking and make our financial system more stable and secure. Reinstating Glass-Steagall has broad bipartisan support, and it's time to get it done."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the lead cosponsor of this bill, concurred that removing the barrier between commercial and investment banks spurred excessive risk taking, and that taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook when those investments go bad:
“Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, a culture of excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world, placing the financial security of millions of hardworking American taxpayers at risk. Even with the thousands of pages of misguided and burdensome regulations imposed by Dodd-Frank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, there are indications that this culture of risky behavior continues today. That's why I believe it is critical for Congress to reinstate the protections that separated main street banks and investment banks.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act into law and repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, said during the 2016 presidential campaign that there isn't "a single, solitary example that it had anything to do with the the financial crash." Politifact rated his claim as "Mostly True."
This legislation has eight cosponsors — including five Democrats, two Independents, and one Republican.
Of Note: While this bill is known as the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, the original Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933 in response to conditions in the financial sector that precipitated the Great Depression. Its primary provision — the separation of commercial and investment banks — was repealed in 1999 with the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user thetaxhaven)