Dingell Remembered for His Prophetic Assessment of Consequences of Repealing Glass-Steagall

Michigan Democrat John Dingell announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election after serving 58 years in the House (the longest of anyone). Amid the press coverage of his announcement, the Huffington Post’s stands out because it emphasizes Dingell’s opposition to the revocation of Glass-Steagall in 1999. Under the headline, “We Might Have Avoided The Financial Crisis If We’d Listened to John Dingell.” The article reported that Dingell took to the floor of the House on Nov. 4, 1999, on the eve of the vote on Gramm-Leach-Bliley- (Lewinsky) to warn of the consequences of repealing Glass-Steagall:

“I think we ought to look at what we are doing here tonight. We are passing a bill which is going to have very little consideration, written in the dark of night, without any real awareness on the part of most of what it contains.

“I just want to remind my colleagues about what happened the last time the Committee on Banking brought a bill on the floor which deregulated the savings and loans. It wound up imposing upon the taxpayers of this Nation about a $500 billion liability … Having said that, what we are creating now is a group of institutions which are too big to fail. Not only are they going to be big banks, but they are going to be big everything, because they are going to be in securities and insurance, in issuance of stocks and bonds and underwriting, and they are also going to be in banks.

“And under this legislation, the whole of the regulatory structure is so obfuscated and so confused that liability in one area is going to fall over into liability in the next. Taxpayers are going to be called upon to cure the failures we are creating tonight, and it is going to cost a lot of money, and it is coming. Just be prepared for those events.”

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