Excuse Me, Senator Grassley, Did I Hear You Correctly?

By Jennifer Kottler 7-15-2010

Every so often I read something in print, and I think to myself, did he/she really say that? I just had that experience again yesterday when I was reading a short article in from the Des Moines (Iowa) Register blog that quoted Senator Grassley as saying the following:

"It's a bill most of Wall Street wants passed. And quite frankly, if Wall Street's pushing for it, is it really much of a change for Wall Street?" Grassley told reporters in a conference call. "And it seems to me the last thing Iowans would expect in any real reform bill is that Wall Street would be backing it." (Beaumont, 2010)

I really had to go back and read this twice. Sojourners has been part of Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of organizations who have been supporting the financial reform effort before bills were even filed in the House and Senate. And as part of that coalition, I can tell you who we have been fighting against lo these many months: Wall Street. Every time we have gotten close to getting a bill passed, the big Wall Street banks poured money into campaign coffers and lobbyists trying to do everything it could to prevent the Dodd-Frank bill from passing. Regardless of what you may think of the final bill -- that it goes too far, or that it doesn't go far enough in regulating the actions of Wall Street -- it is the single most important bill to reign in bad actors and require responsible practices by banks.

I wish that it were true that Wall Street supported this effort, but they don't. The primary aim of Wall Street has been to try and kill the bill at all costs so that they continue to play fast and loose with money that is not theirs -- it's yours and mine. When they won, they won. When they lost, we lost. Why would they want to end that kind of system? The odds were always in their favor.

But I learned yesterday that in a last ditch effort to kill reform, the spin doctors on Wall Street suggested that the appearance that Wall Street "support" reform would not only make the bill suspect to the American people, it would make them look like "good guys" who are willing to take one for the team. I'm usually not cynical enough to believe that corporations would actually do that, but in this case I know firsthand that this is what they tried to do. And Senator Grassley is apparently willing to help them do it.

Pardon me, Senator Grassley, but you are simply incorrect in stating that Wall Street is "really" backing this reform, or ever did back this reform. And it concerns me that the above blog post, written by a staff member of the Des Moines Register, doesn't challenge you on that assertion. So I'm sorry that you decided to side with Wall Street instead of Main Street in your financial regulatory reform vote today, but I'm glad that it did not prevent the passage of a bill that will benefit Iowans for generations to come.

portrait-jennifer-kottlerRev. Jennifer Kottler is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Sojourners. A long-time advocate for justice, Jennifer has served in advocacy ministry for more than seven years through her work at Protestants for the Common Good (Chicago, IL), the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, and the Chicago Jobs Council.

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