Sanders said he would propose amendments to the financial overhaul legislation to limit credit card interest rates and discourage Fed secrecy. He also will work with colleagues to strengthen consumer protections, curb unbridled market speculation and break up "too big to fail" banks.
Sanders said any meaningful financial reform bill must stop big banks from ripping-off consumers by charging credit card interest rates as high as 35 percent. He has proposed legislation to impose a 15 percent cap on what lenders may charge credit card customers.
The senator also called for greater transparency at the Federal Reserve. The legislation proposed by the Senate Banking Committee chairman would allow the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed's emergency lending programs, but bar GAO from naming loan recipients and detailing the terms. "As long as the Federal Reserve is allowed to keep secrets about its loans, we will never know the true financial condition of the banking system. The lack of transparency could lead to an even bigger crisis in the future," Sanders said.
The financial reform bill also falls short on breaking up financial institutions considered "too-big-to-fail." For the most part, the proposed legislation would let regulators intervene only after a financial institution was on the verge of collapse. "We cannot wait for the next crisis to solve this problem," Sanders said. "We have got to take action now."
Finally, Sanders said the financial reform bill does not do nearly enough to reform credit default swaps and other arcane financial products that led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, resulted in a $182 billion bailout of American International Group, and precipitated the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. "Many of these financial weapons of mass destruction don't just need to be regulated, they should be banned," he said.
Sanders said that he will fight to strengthen the financial reform bill when it reaches the Senate floor for debate.