Wednesday, December 21, 2011

State Rep. Stewart Demands Accountability for Too-Big-to-Fail Banks

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 11:49 AM

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Democratic state Rep. Mike Stewart held a press conference this morning on the Legislative Plaza in front of the Occupy Nashville encampment to tout one thing he hopes to accomplish for the 99 percent in the upcoming session. He has introduced legislation—grandiously titled the "Main Street Recovery and Wall Street Accountability Act of 2012"—to extend the time Tennessee citizens can sue big financial institutions to recover money lost in the 2008 economic meltdown. Stewart said he aims to hold big banks accountable for the damage they caused with their bad investment decisions.

His bill also bans financial institutions that took TARP bailout funds from contributing to candidates for the Tennessee House and Senate. That seems unconstitutional, but Stewart said: "Large banks should not be able to take bailout funds from the American taxpayer and then turn around and use those funds to prevent those same taxpayers from fully regulating them."

"I think you'll find, as we head into this legislative session, that the too-big-to-fail banks will take this legislation very, very seriously," Stewart said. "Actually, the people of Tennessee have a lot of power over institutions that choose to do business in this state. So while it is definitely true that the Tennessee legislature cannot entirely reform the national banking system, what we can do is tell too-big-to-fail banks, 'if you're going to be doing business in Tennessee and you're going to be subject to the jurisdiction of our courts, you are not going to be able to hide behind complex financial transactions and avoid responsibility for Tennessee citizens for those transactions.' "

One of the state's few politicians who stuck up for the plaza protesters while the governor was trying to evict them, Stewart represents the Socialist Republic of East Nashville, so he can flail away at fat cats without fear of political repercussions. That's the good news for Stewart. The bad news? The Republican-run legislature will shoot down his bill at the first opportunity.

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