Bernie Sanders Vows to Break up Nation's Largest Banks Within His First Year

Sanders announced his plans for Wall Street reform in a speech Monday.

ByABC News
January 5, 2016, 7:27 PM

— -- Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders vowed to break up the country’s largest banks and insurance companies within the first year of taking the oval office in a speech in New York on Tuesday.

During a speech in downtown Manhattan, Sanders said that within the first 100 days of his administration he would direct his Secretary of the Treasury to compile a list of financial institutions that were “too big to fail.” Within the first year of his presidency, he would move to disband the companies, whose potential financial collapse is deemed too risky to the nation's economy.

During the course of his remarks, the presidential candidate specifically named several companies when talking about what he sees as reckless and monopolistic behavior on Wall Street, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and others.

"I will rein in Wall Street so they cannot crash our economy again. Will the folks on Wall Street like me? No,” he said unmistakably referring to a moment during the last debate when Secretary Clinton said everyone, including big business should love her. “Will they begin to play by the rules if I am president, you better believe it,” he added.

Sanders also used this policy speech on Wall Street reform to aggressively hit his primary opponent Hillary Clinton. He argued that Clinton was not willing to take dramatic steps needed to make changes in the industry, though Clinton has argued that she would and released her own plan on the issue.

“Secretary Clinton says we just need to impose a few more fees and regulations on the financial industry," he said. "I disagree.”

Democratic candidates have pledged to reform the financial and banking industries if elected, though Sanders continually points to the issue as one that distinguishes him from Clinton. In 2008, when both were serving in the U.S. Senate, Clinton voted in favor of the so-called Wall Street bailout, authorizing the federal government to provide cash to the nation’s largest banks to prevent them from collapsing. Senator Sanders voted against it.

“My opponent says that, as a senator, she told bankers to “cut it out” and end their destructive behavior,"he said. "But, in my view, establishment politicians are the ones who need to “cut it out.” Sanders added to the delight of his friendly crowd.

Sanders has focused his campaign message on what he calls the “greed” and “recklessness” of Wall Street. He regularly accuses big banks for what he sees as “illegal” behavior and he speaks with vitriol about the fact that no major banking executives went to jail after the collapse of financial and mortgage markets in 2008. He continued with these ultimatums and harsh rhetoric Tuesday at the Townhall theatre, saying: “So, to those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. Wall Street and corporate greed is destroying the fabric of our nation.

"Here is a New Year’s Resolution that we will keep: If Wall Street does not end their greed, we will end it for them,” he said in his speech.

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