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Press Release

Sen. Cantwell Skewers Treasury Secretary Mnuchin
in Floor Speech

February 2017

C-Span screen capture
Sen. Maria Cantwell questions Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin on Glass-Steagall, Jan. 19, 2017.

Feb. 15, 2017 (EIRNS) On Feb. 10, three days prior to the Senate’s party-line 53-47 vote to approve Stephen Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for him to be rejected because of his opposition to Glass-Steagall in this speech on the Senate Floor:

Sen. Cantwell:

"...The Treasury Secretary will also be on the front lines of protecting and restoring our economy from the 2008 economic crisis... which the Dallas Fed said cost our economy $14 trillion, and is not over (cites loss in 401ks, families’ ability to finance college tuition for children, and loss of home ownership).‘

"...One issue really plagued me most in thinking about this particular nominee, is the issue of Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking... It’s so important, because this was the law of the land for more than 60 years in the U.S. after the Great Depression. Why? Because people understood we should not be putting individual savings, taxpayer savings, at risk when you have a financial crisis. So we implement that law of the land. And I have not been shy about trying to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reinstate Glass-Steagall...‘

"I never thought, never thought, [Dodd-Frank] was the bright line we needed in separating commercial and investment bank banking. So you could imagine my delight when I saw last summer the debate between the Democratic and Republican platforms in which the Republican platform actually started to embrace Glass-Steagall... Clearly, they [GOP] had in their platform something that was very unambiguous. It basically said, ‘We support reinstating Glass-Steagall as the Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from being engaged in high-risk investments.’ So it was the Trump campaign manager who said, ‘We are supporting the small banks and Main Street. We... know the mistakes that were made in repealing Glass-Steagall.’

"So I know this was the party platform of the other side of the aisle. In fact, I had to say I almost thought it was probably a better platform than we had on the Democratic side... But now I see that it was nothing more than a cynical ploy to try to convince the American people that somehow the Trump administration was really going to be on the side of Main Street against Wall Street. In fact, one of my first conversations with Secretary Mnuchin was to ask him if he supported Glass-Steagall. And he said to me, ‘No, that was just a campaign promise in our platform. That’s not what we are going to do.’..."‘

Sen. Cantwell concluded by citing OneWest Bank’s massive illegal "robo-signing" of foreclosures. She pointed out that the Treasury Secretary sits of the Board of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which currently has a deficit of $76 billion. Besides inadequate savings, which have never recovered from the $14 billion losses in 2008, one-third of Americans have zero retirement savings and no pension plan, Cantwell said.