Likely Dem Candidate Martin O’Malley: “Break Up the Big Banks” And Bring Back Glass-Steagall Act

Likely presidential candidate Martin O'Malley listens to the concerns of Scott County Democrats in Davenport, Iowa. (photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)

Likely presidential candidate Martin O’Malley listens to the concerns of Scott County Democrats in Davenport, Iowa. (photo: Scott Galindez/Reader Supported News)


“We must bring fundamental change to the culture of Wall Street, beginning with real accountability.”

By Scott Galindez
Reader Supported News (3/24/15)

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and a likely candidate for president in 2016, arrived in Iowa on Friday with both guns blazing. In an opinion piece he penned for the Des Moines Register,  O’Malley wrote: “The largest banks should be broken up into more manageable institutions. Today, five banks control half of the financial industry’s $15 trillion in assets. Even members of Congress, several Federal Reserve Board governors, and major players in the financial industry are recognizing that institutions that are too big to fail are too big to succeed.” The column took a shot at Democrats who want to water down Dodd/Frank, which he said didn’t go far enough. “The most serious structural reform we can make is reinstating the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that kept commercial banks separate from investment banks.”

Hold ’em accountable

“Structural reforms aren’t enough,” O’Malley went on to say. “We must bring fundamental change to the culture of Wall Street, beginning with real accountability. To this day, the Justice Department and financial regulators have done virtually nothing to bring criminal charges or hold leadership accountable. Legal deterrents are critical for improving the culture of Wall Street and showing that fraudulent behavior will be punished.”

Later in the day, O’Malley delivered a rousing keynote address at the Scott County Democratic Party’s annual Red, White & Blue dinner. He brought the crowd to its feet several times in a speech that many called inspirational. “The American Dream will never die on our watch, because we choose to fight, and we intend to win,” said O’Malley. “That means raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay and respecting the rights of all workers to organize. To make the dream true again, we must expand – and not reduce – Social Security benefits.”

O’Malley talked about his past record as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, along with his vision for the future.

He reminded me a lot of old-school Democrats who represented workers, women, the poor, and people of color. He spoke of the Democratic Party being the party of compassion that has championed a path to the middle class. He spoke of providing opportunity for immigrants, saying “the symbol of America is not barbed wire, it’s the Statue of Liberty.” He stood up for equal pay for women, bringing the crowd to its feet as he shouted, “Sing it with me – when women succeed, America succeeds!”

Voting rights and fair minimum wage

O’Malley blasted Republicans for making it harder for people to vote. He touted his record in Maryland, where they made it easier to vote. He blasted the Republicans for being a party focused on keeping wages down, telling the crowd that he had raised the minimum wage in Maryland to $10.10 an hour.

While mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley took on crime in the city. He used a modern computer system to track crime trends and develop a systematic response. He brought the system with him to the Governor’s Mansion in Maryland. He claimed that crime in Baltimore had dropped by a higher rate than in any other city in America.

When O’Malley was governor of Maryland, he was always seen as effective, but he never stood out as a progressive. However, there were signs that he might be a very progressive candidate: Maryland was one of the first states to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay was a strong priority for O’Malley. He signed gay marriage into law, and allowed children of undocumented immigrants (“dreamers”) to receive financial aid for college.

Martin O’Malley, who opposed the Iraq War, sent a letter to President Barack Obama thanking him for pulling troops out of Iraq. O’Malley wrote: “Thank you for doing what you said you would do in bringing our troops home from Iraq. Thank you for valuing the lives of our brave young men and women over the politically expedient course. Thank you for standing your ground against those who criticized and mocked you. Thank you for doing what only a few presidents have had the courage to do – end war.”

O’Malley opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. He posted the following comments on his Facebook page: “It’s time to reject the either/or and small ball choices facing us on energy. I hope the Senate rejects #_KeystoneXL – it’s too much carbon dioxide, and not nearly enough jobs (only about 50 jobs permanent once construction is finished).”

Iowa connections

O’Malley knows Iowa. He got his start in politics as a Gary Hart volunteer. He volunteered to come to Iowa, where he helped with the traditional campaign tasks while also performing with his guitar at pubs and campaign events. He still plays in an Irish rock band.

Last year he visited Iowa often, and his PAC sent $40,000 and 14 staffers to help with the 2014 elections.

As the attendees of the dinner enjoyed their meal, O’Malley visited every table and spoke with everyone in attendance. Following the event, the governor visited Kelley’s Irish Pub, where he talked one-on-one with everyone who had followed him there.

I spoke to many of the Scott County Democrats at the pub, and none of them think Hillary Clinton has Davenport or Iowa in the bag. They think Martin O’Malley has as good a chance as anyone to win Iowa.

Link to Story and Three Videos

  • Martin O’Malley: Prevent Another Crash, Reform Wall Street — We were forced to save our economy by bailing out big banks. Now, we have a responsibility to correct the mistakes of our more recent past to prevent another crash. To do that, we must acknowledge that — while it addressed inherent flaws in the financial system — the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act did not go far enough. The most serious structural reform we can make is reinstating the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that kept commercial banks separate from investment banks. Under Glass-Steagall, our country did not see a major financial crisis for nearly 70 years. If that law hadn’t been repealed in 1999, the crash would have been contained. The largest banks should be broken up into more manageable institutions … Read the Rest
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