Murray told the stories of
three Washington state residents who suffered due to Wall Street greed and
irresponsibility—and spoke about what this bill will do to help them and people
like them across the state.
Murray also highlighted the contrast between those who are standing up for Washington state families and supporting Wall Street Reform, and those who are standing up for Wall Street, big banks, and special interests and trying to water down or kill reform.
The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:
“Mr. President, I have been fighting hard for a Wall Street reform bill that protects my state’s families, holds Wall Street accountable, and includes a guarantee that American taxpayers will never again have to pay to bail out Wall Street or clean up after big banks’ messes.
“And I am proud to say that finally, after months of hard work, we are so close to passing legislation that does exactly this.
“Mr. President—this should not be a partisan issue. It shouldn’t be about right versus left or Democrats versus Republicans.
“It should be about doing what’s right for families and small business owners in my home state of Washington and across the country.
“It should be about who it is we choose to stand up for—who we think needs our support right now.
“Some people have spent the last few months standing up for Wall Street and big banks: Trying to water down this reform, and fighting every day against any changes that would prevent the big banks from going back to their ‘bonus-as-usual’ mentality.
“But I have been proud to stand with so many others to fight against the Wall Street lobbyists and special interest groups, and for the families I represent in Washington state.
“Families who want us to pass strong reforms that can’t be ignored or sidestepped.
“Who want us to end bailouts and make sure Wall Street is held accountable for cleaning up their own messes.
“And who want us to put in place strong consumer protections to make sure big banks can never again take advantage of our families, students, or seniors.
“Because Mr. President, for most American families this debate isn’t complex—it’s simple.
“It’s not about derivatives or credit default swaps.
“It’s about fundamental fairness. And it’s about making sure we have good, common-sense rules that work for our families and small business owners.
“It’s about the person who walks into a bank to sign up for a mortgage, or applies for a credit card, or starts planning their retirement—are the rules on their side, or are they with the big banks on Wall Street?
“Because, Mr. President—for far too long the financial rules of the road have not favored the American people.
“Instead, they’ve favored: Big banks, credit card companies, and Wall Street. And for far too long they’ve abused those rules.
“So Mr. President, as we approach this vote, I think it is important for all of us to be clear about who it is we are fighting for.
“I am fighting for people like Devin Glaser, a school aide in Seattle who told me he had worked, saved money, and bought a condo before the recession began.
“He told me he put 20% down on a traditional mortgage and was making his payments.
“However, like so many others who have found themselves underemployed as a result of this recession, Devin has been unable to find more than 25 hours of work a week.
“He is now unable to pay his mortgage and is waiting to be foreclosed on any day now.
“I am fighting for people like Rob Hays, a Washington state student whose parents have put retirement on hold and gone back to work in order to send him to school.
“Just a few short years ago Rob’s parents were in the process of selling their home and preparing to retire. But then the foreclosure crisis took hold and they could no longer find a buyer.
“As a result they were forced to pay two mortgages with the money they had saved for Rob’s school—and retirement has been put on hold.
“And I am fighting for people like Jude LaRene, a small business owner in Washington state who told me that when the financial crisis hit his line of credit was pulled.
“This forced him to lay off employees, go deep into debt on personal credit cards, and cut back on inventory.
“Despite the fact that his toy stores were more popular than ever!
“President, I am fighting for people like Devin, Rob, and Jude because they are the ones being forced to pay the price for Wall Street’s greed and irresponsibility.
“Whether it was gambling with borrowed money from our pension funds, making bets they could never cover, or peddling mortgages to people they knew could never pay— Wall Street made reckless choices that have devastated so many working families.
“In my home state of Washington, Wall Street’s mistakes cost us over 150,000 jobs.
“They cost the average family thousands of dollars in lost income.
“They cost small businesses the access to credit they need to expand and hire—and in many cases, caused them to close.
“They cost workers the retirement accounts they were counting on to carry them through their golden years. And students the college saving that would help launch their careers.
They cost homeowners the value of their most important financial asset as neighborhoods have been decimated by foreclosures.
“They cost our schoolteachers, our police officers, and our communities. And they cost workers like Devin, students like Rob, and small business owners like Jude.
“Mr. President, we owe it to people like them across the country to reform this system that puts Wall Street before Main Street.
“We owe it to them to put families back in control of their finances.
“We owe it to them to make sure the rules protect families sitting around the dinner table balancing their checkbooks and finding ways to save for the future—not those sitting around the boardroom table finding ways to increase profits at the expense of hard working Americans.
“And to do that, we need to pass this strong Wall Street reform legislation.
“Mr. President, it is important for families to understand what this bill does—and what exactly opponents of this legislation are fighting against.
“This bill contains explicit language guaranteeing that taxpayers will never again be responsible for bailing out Wall Street.
“It creates a brand new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that will protect consumers from big-bank rip-offs, end unfair fees, curb out-of-control credit card and mortgage rates, and be a new ‘cop on the beat’ to safeguard consumers and protect families.
“It puts in place new protections for small businesses from unfair transaction fees imposed by credit card companies.
“It enforces limitations on excessive compensation for Wall Street executives.
“And it offers new tools to promote financial literacy and make sure families have the knowledge to protect themselves and take personal responsibility for their finances.
“I’ve heard so many stories from people across Washington state who have scrimped and saved, who made the best with what they had, but were still devastated through no fault of their own.
“People who played by the rules but who are now paying the price for those on Wall Street who didn’t.
“These are the people we need to stand up for—the people whose Main Street values I fight for every day.
“So Mr. President, with all of the new protections and reforms that this bill contains for families and small businesses—I have to ask—Who are the opponents of this bill fighting for? Who are they standing up to protect?
“You know, I grew up working at my Dad’s five and dime store on Main Street in Bothell, Washington. And like so many people across our country, Main Street is where I got my values.
“I was taught that the product of your work wasn’t just about the dollars in the till at the end of the day.
“I learned that a good transaction was one that was good for your business AND the customer.
“That strong customer service and lasting relationships often made your business stronger.
“That personal responsibility meant owning up to your mistakes and making them right.
“And that one business relied on the others on the same street.
“I was taught that customers were not prey and businesses were not predators. And that an honest business was a successful one.
“Mr. President, it’s time for us to bring those Main Street values back to our financial system.
“To bring back an approach that puts Main Street and families over Wall Street and profits.
“That protects consumers, holds big banks accountable for their actions, and makes sure people like Devin, Rob, and Jude are never again forced to bear the burden for the big banks’ mistakes.
“So I urge my colleagues to stand with me against the status quo, and for this strong Wall Street Reform bill that families and small businesses in Washington state and across the country desperately need.
“Thank you—I yield the floor.”