Former Senator Byron Dorgan Says Glass-Steagall Not Impossible
June 1, 2012 • 8:44AM

Yesterday, The Hill ran a story entitled: “Senate Dems not with Warren on reinstating Glass-Steagall Bank Act”.

The article makes the point that some Senate Democratic leaders are reluctant to challenge Wall Street by reinstating Glass-Steagall, due to their desire for Wall Street campaign contributions.

However, former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), whom the Hill characterizes as having been the Senate's most outspoken defender of Glass-Steagall while in Congress, is then quoted as saying that Warren should expect a forceful pushback from Wall Street, but that reinstating Galss Steagall is not impossible.

"It's very hard, because you're taking on Wall Street, and Wall Street has substantial clout in Congress," he said. "They were able to substantially dilute Dodd-Frank. Even what it required was fought bitterly by Wall Street. It will be hard to get it done but not impossible. There are plenty of members of the caucus who believe you have to re-impose Glass-Steagall. It is one of the few proposed reforms of Wall Street to draw bipartisan support."

The Hill then reports that Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced legislation in 2010 to restore the safeguards of Glass-Steagall, and that Sen. Richard Shelby (AL), the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, voted against the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999.

Some advocates of re-enacting Glass-Steagall believe doing so could become politically viable if Republicans such as McCain, Shelby, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), sign on to the effort.

Here is an excerpt from Sen Dorgan's prophetic speech on the floor of the Senate in '99 during the debate over Gramm-Leach-Bliley:

SEN. BYRON DORGAN: “We are, with this piece of legislation, moving towards greater risk. We are almost certainly moving towards substantial new concentration and mergers in the financial services industry, that is almost certainly not in the interests of consumers. And we are deliberately and certainly, with this legislation, moving towards inheriting much greater risk in our financial services industries. And so, I come to the floor to say that I regret that I cannot support the legislation. I think we will, in 10 years’ time, look back and say we should not have done that, because we forgot the lessons of the past.”