WASHINGTON — Democrat Martin O’Malley is stepping up his crusade against Wall Street mega banks with a bold invitation to his party’s fellow presidential hopefuls and within the GOP: Join me.
“We made a commitment to the American people that we would follow through on Wall Street reform, and we have not yet done that,” O’Malley said Thursday before about 50 people at the Truman Center for National Policy. “Any Democratic candidate running for president who expects to succeed in the general election,” should “make some basic commitments that make real that promise of following through on Wall Street reform.”
O’Malley ticked off four key Wall Street reforms:
- Reinstate the 1933 Glass-Stegall Act to force mega banks to separate their investment and commercial banking operations
- Close the “revolving door” between Wall Street and regulation agencies
- Commit to not appoint to key positions those who were the architects of big bank deregulation
- Set up “real deterrents” on Wall Street
The question and answer session with former Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., became the latest example of how the East Coast liberal is working to fashion himself not just as a financial reform foot soldier, but as a leading general among his political peers.
Miller shot back at the candidate’s reform plans several times.
The current Congress won’t pass most of O’Malley’s plans unless a crisis similar to 2008 unravels, Miller, an ally to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., argued.
O’Malley took leaders from both sides of the aisle to task Thursday, saying the U.S. has not followed through with necessary reforms.
“It seems to me that that process is way overdue,” he said, before picking up a copy of “The Bullies of Wall Street” by former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation president Sheila Bair and waving it for emphasis.
O’Malley has made Wall Street reform a major component of his campaign, even as he continues to struggle with name recognition and fundraising support compared to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Over the past several weeks, campaign operatives have sent several emails to supporters describing the former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor as the Democratic Party’s strongest critic of Wall Street.
But at no point in his talk did O’Malley name any of his Republican or Democratic challengers, a theme he has stuck to since launching his bid in May.
Advisers to party front-runner Hillary Clinton have hinted she won’t support a new iteration of Glass-Steagall.
O’Malley had long hoped to become the party’s leftist alternative to Clinton. But an insurgent Sanders has upended those prospects in recent weeks, drawing crowds of several thousand with his fiery political prose.
Every Dem. candidate should embrace four key Wall Street reforms: One, reinstitute Glass-Steagall. Two, close the revolving door. (1/2)
— Martin O'Malley (@MartinOMalley) July 23, 2015
Three, commit to not appoint to key positions those who were the architects of dereg. Four, put in place real deterrents on Wall St. (2/2)
— Martin O'Malley (@MartinOMalley) July 23, 2015
Despite a jam-packed itinerary across early nominating states Iowa and New Hampshire, O’Malley continues to languish near the bottom of national polls.
Clinton holds a commanding lead in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted from July 16 to 19.
Of the 357 registered Democrats surveyed, 63 percent sided with Clinton. Sanders trailed far behind with 14 points. O’Malley sat at 1 percentage point in the poll, behind former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has not formally announced a 2016 run, but has said he is considering a run.
At one point in his speech, O’Malley explained that letting GOP leaders set the budget for Wall Street enforcement agencies would be like letting legendary mob boss Al Capone set the budget for the Chicago police department.
In recent weeks, he has called for doubling funds at financial regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, in addition to his modern plan for a “21st Century Glass-Steagall.”
The notion of reforming Wall Street has received renewed attention this week with the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Dodd-Frank banking regulations that were put into place in the wake of the 2008 bailout of several large financial companies
The Clinton administration repealed the act, which was first passed in 1933. Since its repeal, some progressives have argued that it contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown.
Asked how his Wall Street crackdown differs from Sanders’s, O’Malley failed to outline specifics.
Instead, he cited his 15 years of executive experience in Maryland government and noted that the Vermont Democratic socialist lacks that.
“If you slap a bank robber on the wrists, he’s going to continue to rob banks,” O’Malley said, connecting that metaphor to financial leaders in suits who don’t change their ways of operating.
O’Malley was originally scheduled to speak Thursday at a National Press Club luncheon, but he pulled out Tuesday over a disagreement with the club’s standard format. At least 90 tickets had been sold for the luncheon, which features questions from guests written on cards and asked by the club president.
Earlier this month, former Texas governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appeared at a club lunch and spoke about the need for the GOP to secure the minority vote in the next election.
O’Malley is scheduled to return to Iowa this weekend, where at least six speeches and gatherings are scheduled between Friday and Saturday.
This story previously identified Brad Miller as a member of the House of Representatives. Miller served for 10 years and retired in 2013.
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