WASHINGTON, DC – Today Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) voted against the reappointment of Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. Cantwell’s primary concern is creating jobs by getting capital flowing again to Main Street businesses through community banks. Mr. Bernanke was confirmed in a 70-30 vote. Cantwell said the Fed and Department of Treasury need to aggressively move capital to community banks for small business loans. Urgent action is needed to prevent the next crisis that is bubbling up on Main Street.
“This is not one Fed chairman’s problem or one administration’s problem,” Senator Cantwell said in a Senate floor speech. “My vote against the Fed chairman has to do not with the past but with the future – the future prevention of another bubble, or more bankruptcies.”
The Fed chairman and Treasury should lead the charge for real regulatory reform, without loopholes, Cantwell said. Without their leadership, it will be nearly impossible to change Wall Street dark market activity. Cantwell and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Cantwell-McCain Banking Integrity Act, to separate commercial and investment banking, as was done under the Glass-Steagall Act that stabilized the nation’s financial system for decades following the Great Depression.
Cantwell urged the Obama administration to immediately use funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to infuse capital into small community banks for small business lending. The plan, announced by President Obama in his State of the Union Address, can be done by executive action rather than time-consuming legislation. Community banks should receive $50 billion in TARP funds, not the $30 billion in the White House proposal, she said. Funds should be accessible to small banks that need the infusion to spark local lending. And the program should include incentives to ensure that lending capital directed to community banks actually flows to small business.
“I don’t want to leave the American people with the thought that somehow Wall Street is more important than Main Street,” Cantwell said.
For video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech, click here.