SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) met with community bankers and small business owners to discuss efforts to get lending capital flowing into the economy. Community banks are a lifeline to small businesses, the engine of job growth, and Cantwell is urging immediate action in Washington, DC, on efforts to break the freeze on credit that is slowing economic recovery.
“If we get credit flowing to community banks, we will give small businesses the opportunity to do what they do best – create jobs, innovate, and stimulate local economies,” Cantwell said at a press conference following the meeting. “We helped the big banks – and they paid out big bonuses and posted record profits. Meanwhile, unemployment remains unacceptably high. We need to be clear about something: community banks and small businesses are vital to our economy, and with our support, they will show us the way to economic recovery.”
Cantwell supports President Obama’s proposal to use $30 billion of repaid Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to help community banks lend to small businesses. But she believes that the amount should be increased to $50 billion and she has urged the administration to implement this plan immediately, rather than waiting for Congress to act. Cantwell also believes that regulations should be altered to enable more community banks to take advantage of the program. As part of a range of efforts on the economy, Cantwell is working to establish tougher regulatory reform to prevent another financial crisis.
“Regulatory reform is a pro-business concept,” said Cantwell. “The financial collapse was brought on by unregulated speculation. When the bets went bad, we spent trillions of dollars bailing out the big banks, while community banks and small businesses suffered the consequences.”
Cantwell has introduced three financial reform bills in the past six months: one to prevent Enron-style market manipulation, another to subject derivatives traders to state gambling regulations, and a third to reinstate the Glass-Steagall firewall between commercial and investment banking.