Wall Street reform is critical to Main Street

May 09, 2010

The recent financial crisis underscores how interconnected our economy is. The irresponsible decisions made by Wall Street had a ripple effect across our economy and the consequences have been severe.

The savings, home values, jobs, and businesses of millions of Americans have been adversely impacted. That is why the Senate is taking action on Wall Street reform legislation to prevent another crisis that threatens the entire economy.

Almost 34,000 private sector jobs have been lost in New Hampshire alone, and thousands of New Hampshire families have seen the equity in their homes vanish. The average home value in New Hampshire has declined by more than 15 percent.

It is not just homes and jobs that are being lost. People have also seen their retirement and college savings decimated. And too many small businesses, the backbone of our state's economy, still cannot get the credit they need.

The effects of Wall Street's reckless behavior are being felt by hardworking people across New Hampshire and the country. And as the congressional testimony of Goldman Sachs executives has shown us, the big investment banks are clearly not willing to accept responsibility for their actions or work with Congress to make sure we never face another economic crisis like this again.

That's why we need to act quickly to bring accountability to Wall Street and stability to Main Street.

We need to prevent financial institutions that are supposed to be helping families save for retirement and their kids' college educations from making risky side bets. We need to protect consumers from abusive practices and empower them to make the right financial choices for their families.

We need to ensure that consumers get the information they need in plain English when they shop for mortgages, credit cards and other financial products. We need more transparency in the shadowy derivatives markets where Wall Street executives make gambles - gambles where Wall Street gets all the upside and American families get all the downside.

And we need to put in place reforms to stop Wall Street firms from growing so big and so interconnected that they can threaten our entire economy.

At the same time, I am working to help ensure that community banks and credit unions, which did not cause this problem, are not unduly burdened by new regulations.

I also strongly believe that no taxpayer funds should be used to bail out financial institutions in the future. I was against asking New Hampshire taxpayers to bail out these Wall Street firms in the first place and was one of only nine Democratic senators to vote against releasing $350 billion in additional bailout funds.

By enacting Wall Street reform, the American people will never again be asked to bail out Wall Street.

In the days ahead, as the Senate continues to debate this bill, Wall Street bankers and their lobbyists will fight these reforms. Indeed, they have already started.

But allowing business as usual to continue on Wall Street is not an option. I won't give into these powerful interests, and I am hopeful my colleagues will join me in fighting to protect all Americans by holding Wall Street accountable.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is the state's junior senator.

By:  Jeanne Shaheen
Source: Nashua Telegraph