O'Malley: Democrats need to support Wall Street overhaul

AP News
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Posted: Jul 23, 2015 3:31 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday challenged the Democratic presidential field to commit to making changes on Wall Street, including restoring the Glass-Steagall law that once separated commercial and investment banking.

The Democratic presidential candidate did not mention Hillary Rodham Clinton by name, but his list of policy recommendations appeared aimed at pressuring the Democratic front-runner to take a more populist stand on financial oversight.

"We made a commitment to the American people that we would follow through on Wall Street reform and we have not yet done that," O'Malley said at the Truman Center for National Policy. He said "any Democratic candidate running for president, who expects to succeed in the general election," should "make some basic commitments that make real that promise of following through on Wall Street reform."

O'Malley remains largely unknown in the Democratic field but has sought to become a viable alternative to Clinton and her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders has drawn large crowds in recent weeks and appealed to liberals, while O'Malley has rolled out several specific policy proposals on immigration, college affordability and Wall Street accountability in hopes of gaining traction.

In a conversation with former Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., an ally of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, O'Malley said the next president should close the revolving door between Wall Street and regulatory agencies, bar architects of Wall Street regulation from serving in key administration posts and impose stiff penalties on financial firms who break the law.

Clinton, who plans to address the role of corporate America in the economy on Friday, has not yet said whether she would support legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which required Wall Street firms to separate their commercial and investment banking practices. It was repealed in 1999, during Bill Clinton's presidency, and some Democrats contend it contributed to the financial crisis a decade later.

Describing the need for tougher penalties, he said, "If you slap a bank robber on the wrist, he's going to keep robbing more banks. The same is true if the person wears a suit."

O'Malley said financial industry pressure on Congress to stifle funding for federal regulatory agencies overseeing Wall Street is "as if Al Capone is setting the budget for the Chicago police department," he said.

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