Cantwell to banks:  Loan, don't gamble

By:  Joel Connelly
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is emerging as the U.S. Senate’s most outspoken advocate of legislation to inoculate the country against the kind of near financial collapse seen in the fall of 2008.

She has even teamed up in a bipartisan re-regulation proposal by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

At a Washington, D.C., news conference Wednesday, Cantwell argued that the Obama administration and Congress must put in place regulatory oversight and transparency in derivative trading and commodities markets.

In Cantwell’s opinion, unregulated and highly leveraged gambling in derivatives helped cause the financial crisis that sent the country into prolonged economic doldrums.

“Reining in the dark derivatives market is key to getting capital flowing to community banks and small businesses that are in the best position to stimulate economic growth on Main Street,” Cantwell said.

“To get our economy on track, we must bring full transparency and capital requirements to the entire derivatives market. This will prevent a repeat of the massive losses in unregulated derivatives trading – losses that taxpayers ultimately paid for.”

The House of Representatives has passed its version of financial reform legislation.

As with other major bills – e.g. legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the financial reform faces delay and uncertain prospects in the Senate.

President Obama tried to prod Congress’ upper chamber into action on Wednesday by delivering a get-on-with-it speech to the Senate Democratic Caucus.