Call and response on Wall Street reform

As Congress and President Barack Obama shifted their focus to financial reform last week, state Sen. Craig Pridemore challenged Denny Heck, his main Democratic opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race, to tell voters where he stands on “critical legislation to hold Wall Street accountable.”

“Every day we find out more and more about the predatory lending and outright greed of Wall Street that drove our economy into a ditch,” Pridemore said in a press release. “We must enact strict oversight of financial institutions by establishing a Consumer Protection Agency to ensure this crisis never happens again.”

Taking a swipe at Heck, he said, “Voters deserve to know where their next representative stands on the issues that matter.”

Heck, no novice when it comes to financial matters, was glad to oblige.

“If I had a concern about the Consumer Protection Finance Agency, it would be that it doesn’t go far enough,” he said when reached by phone. “If that’s all we do, we are naive if we think we fix the problem. The real danger here is missing the big point: We need systemic regulation.”

Heck said he favors requiring all banks to pay back the TARP money they owe the American people; bringing the derivatives market “out of the shadows” by requiring it to be more transparent; and — – the big one — restoring Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that prohibited commercial banks from using their customers’ deposits to engage in high-risk investing. Congress repealed the law during the Clinton administration.

“As worthwhile as all those other pieces are, if we don’t do the Glass-Steagall part we will be having the same conversation in 10 years,” he said.

Heck said the issue of Wall Street reform comes up regularly in his campaign stops. “I bring it up,” he said. “I’m incensed. I rarely give a speech in which I don’t call for reregulation of Wall Street. I don’t understand why some of those guys aren’t in jail. when you think of the human suffering, the lost jobs, the lost homes. due in part to Wall Street.”

Casey Bowman, campaign spokesman for state Rep. Jaime Herrera, also a candidate for the 3rd District seat, weighed in with an e-mail pointing out that Heck, alone among the seven candidates running for the 3rd District seat, has no “Issues” page on his campaign Web site.

“We are working on getting an issues page up,” Heck said. He couldn’t help adding, “An issues page doesn’t necessarily mean there is substance there.”

Kathie Durbin

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