Sanders Has A Difficult Time Explaining How He Would Break Up Big Banks

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Alliance for Retired Americans 2015 National Legislative Conference in Washington, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Bernie Sanders met with editors from the New York Daily News on April 1st and struggled to explain in closer detail how he plans to break up the too big to fail banks and carry out his so called political revolution.

During the interview, Sanders claimed that JPMorgan Chase, and “virtually every other major bank in this country” are destroying the fabric of America.

Sanders said that because large banks have won past legal settlements with the U.S. government, it is an implicit admission of wrongdoing.

“Right now, there are still millions of people in this country who are suffering the results of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And when you have companies like Goldman Sachs and many other major banks reaching settlements with the United States government, as you’re aware, for many billions of dollars, this is an implicit admission that they have engaged in illegal activity” Sanders said.

Sanders explained that what corporate America and Wall Street has shown us during the last number of years, is the only thing that matters is their profits and their money.

“And the hell with the rest of the people of this country” Sanders said.

Describing himself as not anti-trade, Sanders explained that the past trade policies that we were approved in America were written by corporate America and have been disastrous for American workers.

Sanders outlined a plan for supporting trade based on fair trade practices.

“I don’t think it is appropriate for trade policies to say that you can move to a country where wages are abysmal, where there are no environmental regulations, where workers can’t form unions. That’s not the kind of trade agreement that I will support” Sanders said.

If elected president, Sanders said that he would stop unfair trading practices by stop it by “renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have” using language that sounds a lot like they type used by Republican nominee Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.

Sanders was asked pointed questions about how he would break up the too big to fail banks in the United States and had a difficult time articulating his strategy.

“How you go about doing it is having legislation passed, or giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are a danger to the economy over the problem of too-big-to-fail” Sanders said.

When asked if the Fed has that authority to break up the banks, Sanders said that believes that the administration can have it.

“Well, I don’t know if the Fed has it. But I think the administration can have it” Sanders said.

In truth, this type of authority is not likely to be given through executive action and would require further Congressional support.

Sanders said he believes that authority could be given under the Dodd-Frank legislation  ” to do that, make that determination.”

Later, Sanders reversed course and denied that he said breaking up big banks would come through executive action.

He explained,  “You have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination.”

“If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.”

Sanders maintained that his administration would have a much more aggressive attorney general than President Obama’s selection who would be looking at all of the legal implications.

“All I can tell you is that if you have Goldman Sachs paying a settlement fee of $5 billion, other banks paying a larger fee, I think most Americans think, ‘Well, why do they pay $5 billion?’ Not because they’re heck of a nice guys who want to pay $5 billion. Something was wrong there. And if something was wrong, I think they were illegal activities” Sanders said.

When asked if there’s a particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments, Sanders responded by saying that he “suspects there are.”

“Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don’t. But if I would…yeah, that’s what I believe, yes. When a company pays a $5 billion fine for doing something that’s illegal, yeah, I think we can bring charges against the executives” Sanders stated.

Sanders believes to a significant degree that the business model of Wall Street is fraud.

When asked to explain the type of fraudulent activities he is referring to, Sanders referred to financial derivatives such as OTC Derivatives linked to sub-prime mortgage lending that helped to create the housing bubble that sparked the housing crash and Great Recession from 2008-2012.

“Fraudulent activity that brought this country into the worst economic decline in its history by selling packages of fraudulent, fraudulent, worthless subprime mortgages. How’s that for a start?” Sanders asked.

“Selling products to people who you knew could not repay them. Lying to people without allowing them to know that in a year, their interest rates would be off the charts. They would not repay that. Bundling these things. Putting them into packages with good mortgages. That’s fraudulent activity” Sanders continued.

* correction.. The original version of this post mistakenly listed the Sanders interview with the New York Post. It was corrected to show New York Daily News.

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