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600,000 petitioners want Congress to restore Glass-Steagall

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Petitions signed by nearly 600,000 Americans have landed on Capitol Hill, demanding restoration of Glass-Steagall banking regulations.

The petitions -- gathered by CREDO, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Public Citizen, Americans for Financial Reform, MoveOn.org and others -- seek more consumer protection for Main Street.

The “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act,” sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., would reinstate financial safeguards shielding federally insured commercial bank deposits from Wall Street’s high-risk investment brokerages and hedge funds.

“The original Glass-Steagall Act served our country well,” Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, told the Value Walk newsletter.

“It laid the foundation for an unprecedented half century without financial panics or crises. Just as important, it contributed to a more right-sized banking system and one more focused on serving the economy and the society as a whole, rather than on enriching itself at others’ expense.”

Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, said, “When banks are allowed to continue gambling with our taxpayer-insured deposits, we are setting up our economy for another meltdown.”

“Real banking protections should not be a thing of the past. Going back to a clear Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking is the easiest way to make sure greedy banksters don’t put our fragile, still recovering economy back on the rocks.”

“Not a single Wall Street banker has gone to jail for crimes that caused the financial crisis, the least Congress can do is make sure these bankers aren’t gambling with our money,” noted Becky Bond, CREDO’s political director. “It’s long past time to reinstitute Glass-Steagall.”

Glass-Steagall, enacted in the aftermath of the Great Depresson, was repealed by Congress in 1999. Less than eight years later, Wall Street crashed again.

Now a bipartisan group of lawmakers – along with nearly a dozen state legislatures – want Glass-Steagall back on the federal books.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; and Angus King, I-Maine, are among the chief Glass-Steagall co-sponsors with Warren.

Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Walter Jones, R-N.C., are leading the charge in the House of Representatives.

“Across the nation, people of all ideological stripes want more Wall Street reform and accountability — not less,” said Adam Green, co-founder of Progressive Change.

“We were proud to start working with Elizabeth Warren while she was still a candidate on writing a 21st Century Glass Steagall Act. This bill is a huge down payment on the reform we need.”

See earlier story.

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