Top Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election are honing their ire at Wall Street, placing blame for income inequality in the U.S. on the nation’s largest banks and criticizing the benefits the industry and its ultrarich executives received from the GOP-led tax cuts.
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The degree to which the contenders are attacking the financial sector, however, vary in intensity. Some top candidates, for example, continue to solicit Wall Street tycoons for campaign donations even while taking mild jabs.
Meanwhile, Sens. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have both argued that reducing the influence of big banks in Washington D.C. is a necessary first step before more sweeping reforms can advance.
“Nothing will change unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military-industrial complex and the fossil fuel industry,” Sanders said after Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.
Attacking the financial sector is not a new strategy for those running for the White House. During the 2016 election, even President Trump promised he would not let the industry “get away with murder” and previously said that his administration would investigate breaking up the largest firms.
But as Democratic candidates seek to stand-out from a crowded pack and brandish their liberal credentials, the stance on Wall Street is becoming something of a litmus test for the party.
Below is a snapshot of key quotes to show where the top contenders stand:
Former Vice President Joe Biden
“The American middle class built this country. Yet today, CEOs and Wall Street are putting profits over workers, plain and simple. It’s wrong. There used to be a basic bargain in this country that when you work hard, you were able to share in the prosperity your work helped create. It’s time to restore the dignity of work and give workers back the power to earn what they’re worth.” – Campaign website
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
“Wall Street is doing financially well, and I hope everybody remembers that it was the American taxpayer that bailed out Wall Street some ten years ago, because of their greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior. Now, it is time for Wall Street to pay a modest tax on speculation, so that we can address the many, many crisis facing our country.” – CNN
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
“I see every single day that this economy is not working for average Americans. The indicators that are being used, from GDP to Wall Street's rankings, is not helping people in my community. It is about time that we have an economy that works for everybody, not just the wealthiest in our nation.” – Wednesday’s Democratic debate
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
“These giant corporations have too much power. They have too much economic power and they have too much political power. And when they’ve got that kind of political power, that’s what creates corruption. Every issue that we talked about tonight gets touched by money in Washington. It’s influenced, it’s shaped, it’s just slightly revised to help the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind. We’ve got to change that.” – Wednesday’s Democratic debate
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“Sitting across the table from the big banks, I witnessed the arrogance of power, wealthy bankers accusing innocent homeowners of fault as if Wall Street's mess was of the people's making. So we went after the five biggest banks in the United States. We won $20 billion for California homeowners. And we passed -- and together, we passed the strongest anti-foreclosure law in the United States of America.” -- CNN