Maine Financial Reform Supporters Praise Senators Snowe and Collins on Their Votes for Landmark Legislation

Augusta, Maine (Friday, May 21, 2010)—Maine advocates for economic fairness today praised Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for their principled votes in favor of landmark financial regulatory legislation that represents the most far-reaching reforms since the 1930s. 

“Senator Snowe and Senator Collins have once again demonstrated leadership and independence by supporting legislation that will safeguard the financial security of their Maine constituents,” said Christopher St. John, Executive Director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. “It is the most far-reaching effort to protect consumers from financial malpractice since the establishment of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934.  It will protect our state and national economies from a repeat of the financial calamity that culminated in the collapse of financial and real estate markets in 2008.”

The bill expands government oversight of banking system and financial markets and includes new restrictions on banking and financial practices which contributed to the collapse of markets in the fall of 2008.  It creates new consumer protection rules, increases supervision of big bank operations, and protects taxpayers from future financial bailouts.

“Working people and their families have paid the heaviest price for Wall Street’s economic crisis with millions of jobs lost, retirement savings vanished and wages flat lined,” said Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO.  “We applaud the Senate – and Maine’s two Senators in particular – for passing financial reform regulation to ensure that we avoid future economic meltdowns and hold big banks and Wall Street accountable. Such legislation is a critical step in restoring good jobs and rebuilding an economy that works for everyone. As the process moves forward, we are hopeful that the bill will be strengthened in Senate/House conference negotiations, particularly when it comes to regulating derivatives along with private equity and hedge funds.” 

A recent poll by the Pew Economic Policy Group found that most Mainers—78% of voters -support a comprehensive financial reform plan. The poll revealed that 92% favor protecting consumers from harmful business practices, and 85% favor establishing an early warning system and increasing transparency in financial markets.

“The legislation to hold Wall Street accountable, end the ‘casino economy’ and protect consumers from financial tricks and traps is critical and historic,” said Maine People’s Alliance Executive Director Jesse Graham.  “We thank our Senators for working to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen to the American people again.”

“Hard working people have endured unimaginable and unnecessary suffering due to the financial devastation perpetrated by Wall Street,” added Sara Gagné-Holmes, Executive Director of Maine Equal Justice Partners.  “We applaud the efforts of our Congressional Delegation to demand accountability and transparency and by doing so bringing hope to families struggling to make ends meet.”

“The Restoring American Financial Stability Act is a first step in a long journey to protect consumers and regulate mortgage and other practices that have hurt and are hurting many people and communities throughout this nation,” said Ron Phillips, President, Coastal Enterprises, Inc.  “The primary culprits have been out-of-state lenders, not your everyday, neighborly community banks or credit unions which have a strong record of sound underwriting that has prevented massive foreclosures.  CEI’s and other Maine foreclosure counseling programs are still dealing with significant losses – some 23,000 projected – but the new federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and other regulations will prevent predatory practices.  We appreciate the thoughtful way in which our two Senators Snowe and Collins are seeking to ensure a safe, transparent and just financial system.”

“Women have a high stake in the financial stability of our country,” said Sarah Standiford, Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby. “Women were 41% more likely than men to have received high-cost subprime loans, regardless of income. They are also the primary users of payday loans. At the same time female owned businesses are rising faster than male owned businesses and are expected to produce 1/3 of all new jobs in the next 7 years. The Maine Women’s Lobby is grateful for the efforts of our congressional delegation to reign in risky markets so that Maine people can lend and grow opportunities without inherent risk.”