Elizabeth Warren Loses It with Steve Mnuchin Over His 'Orwellian Doublespeak' on Bank Reform

During his testimony at Thursday's Senate Banking Committee's hearing on Domestic and International Policy Update, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted the Trump administration never intended to break up big banks, despite its prior messaging.

That didn't sit well with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a long-time critic of Wall Street's "rigged" game.

"The president and this administration have said repeatedly that they support a 21st-century Glass-Steagall. It was in the Republican Party platform; Donald Trump said it, specifically a few weeks before the election; you said [it] at your confirmation hearing and now you've just said exactly the opposite," Warren began.  

"In the past few months, you and the president have had a number of meetings with big bank CEOs and lobbyists; is that the reason for the reversal on Glass-Steagall?" she asked Mnuchin, once dubbed the "foreclosure king" of the financial crisis. 

Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era bank regulation that effectively separated commercial and investment banking, was dismantled in 1999. Its repeal has been cited as a key cause of the 2008 financial crisis. But as the New Yorker explained in April, Trump's support of its restoration was always to be heeded with caution

"We during the campaign... specifically came out and said we do support a 21st-century Glass-Steagall," Mnuchin told Warren. "That means there are aspects of it that we think may make sense, but we never said before that we supported a full separation of banks and investment banks."

"There are 'aspects' of Glass-Steagall that you support, but not breaking up the banks and separating commercial banking from investment banking?" Warren asked, baffled. "What do you think Glass-Steagall was if that's not right at the heart of it?"

Mnuchin explained that the banking reform act was "actually about conflict, not about credit risk."

"If we had supported a full Glass-Steagall, we would have said [that] at the time," he mumbled. 

Warren, creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Obama, pressed on. 

"Let me get this straight: you're saying you are in favor of Glass-Steagall, which breaks apart the two arms of banking. Except you don't want to break apart the two parts of banking," she summed up. "This is like something out of George Orwell." 


Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.