In light of the terrorist attacks against targets in France on Friday night, Saturday night's Democratic debate started off with time for the candidates to speak about the tragedy and address foreign policy issues, specifically terrorism. Then the debate turned to domestic issues, including health care, minimum wage increases, gun control and Wall Street.
The debate featured former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and was moderated by John Dickerson of "Face the Nation," Nancy Cordes of CBS, Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register and Kevin Cooney.
As we did with the Republican debate last week, HousingWire listened with an ear to the housing economy. Of course, that's a broad term, covering everything from mortgage banking to real estate. In the case of the Democratic debate, the conversation the candidates had about the influence of Wall Street banks and regulation to break up the banks was about as close as it came.
Here's everything that was said, with the moderator's comments when they were pertinent, from the Washington Post's transcript:
DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton… Senator Sanders recently said, quote, "People should be suspect of candidates who receive large sums of money from Wall Street and then go out and say 'Trust me. I'm going to really regulate wall street'.
So you've received millions of dollars in contributions and speaking fees from from Wall Street companies. How do you convince voters that you are going to level the playing field when you're indebted to some of its biggest players?
CLINTON: Well, I think it's pretty clear that they know that I will. You have two billionaire hedge fund managers who started a super PAC and they're advertising against me in Iowa as we speak. So they clearly think I'm going to do what I say I will do and you can look at what I did in the Senate.
I did introduce legislation to reign in compensation. I looked at ways that the shareholders would have more control over what was going on in that arena. And specifically said to Wall Street, that what they were doing in the mortgage market was bringing our country down. I've laid out a very aggressive plan to reign in Wall Street — not just the big banks.
That's a part of the problem and I am going right at them. I have a comprehensive, tough plan. But I went further than that. We have to go after what is called the shadow banking industry. Those hedge funds. Look at what happened in '08, AIG, a big insurance company, Lehman Brothers, an investment bank helped to bring our economy down. So, I want to look at the whole problem and that's why my proposal is much more comprehensive than anything else that's been put forth.
SANDERS: Here's the story. I mean, you know, let's not be naive about it. Why do — why, over her political career has Wall Street been a major — the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they're dumb and they don't know what they're going to get, but I don't think so.
Here is the major issue when we talk about Wall Street. It ain't complicated. You have six financial institutions today that have assets of 56 percent, equivalent to 56 percent of the GDP In America. They issue two-thirds of the credit cards and one-third of the mortgages.
If Teddy Roosevelt, a good Republican, were alive today, you know what he'd say? "Break them up." Reestablish Glass-Steagall. And Teddy Roosevelt is right. That is the issue. Now I am the only candidate up here that doesn't have a super PAC. I am not asking Wall Street or the billionaires for money. I will break up these banks. Support community banks and credit unions. That's the future of banking in America.
Moderator to Sanders: You said they (banks) know what they're going to get. What are they going to get?
SANDERS: I have never heard a candidate never, who has received huge amounts of money from oil, from coal, from Wall Street, from the military industrial complex, not one candidate say, oh, these campaign contributions will not influence me. I'm going to be independent. Well, why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something. Everybody knows that.
Once again, I am running a campaign differently than any other candidate. We are relying on small campaign donors, 750,000 of them, 30 bucks a piece. That's who I'm indebted to.
CLINTON: So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.
So, you know, it's fine for you to say what you're going to say, but I looked very carefully at your proposal. Reinstating Glass- Steagall is a part of what very well could help, but it is nowhere near enough. My proposal is tougher, more effective, and more comprehensive because I go after all of Wall Street not just the big banks.
SANDERS: This issue touches on two broad issues. It's not just Wall Street. It's campaign — a corrupt campaign finance system. And it is easy to talk the talk about ending Citizens United, but what I think we need to do is show by example that we are prepared to not rely on large corporations and Wall Street for campaign contributions, and that's what I'm doing.
In terms of Wall Street, I respectfully disagree with you, madam secretary, in the sense that the issue here is when you have such incredible power and such incredible wealth. When you have Wall Street spending $5 billion over a 10-year period to get — to get deregulated, the only answer they know is break them up, reestablish Glass-Stegall.
Moderator to O’Malley: Governor, along with your answer, how many Wall Street veterans would you have in your administration?
O' MALLEY: Well, I'll tell you what, I've said this before. I don't — I believe that we actually need some new economic thinking in the White House. And I would not have Robert Rubin or Larry Summers, with all due respect, Secretary Clinton, to you and to them, back on my council of economic advisers.
DICKERSON: Anyone from Wall Street?
O' MALLEY: They are the architects. Sure, we'll have an inclusive group but I won't be taking my orders from Wall Street. And look, let me say this. I put out a proposal. I was on the front lines when people lost their homes, when people lost their jobs. I was on the front lines as a governor fighting against — fighting that battle.
Our economy was wrecked by the big banks of Wall Street. And Secretary Clinton, when you put out your proposal on Wall Street, it was greeted by many as, quote, unquote, "Weak tea". It is weak tea. It is not what the people expect of our country.
We expect that our president will protect the main street economy from excesses on Wall Street. And that's why Bernie's right. We need to reinstate a modern version of Glass-Steagall and we should have done it already.
CLINTON: Well, you know, governor, I know that when you had a chance to appoint a commissioner for financial regulation, you chose an investment banker in 2010. So for me, it is looking at what works and what we need to do to try to move past what happened in '08.
And I will go back and say again, AIG was not a big bank. It had to be bailed out and it nearly destroyed us. Lehman Brothers was not a big bank. It was an investment bank. And its bankruptcy and its failure nearly destroyed us. So I've said, if the big banks don't play by the rules, I will break them up.
SANDERS: The big banks–
CLINTON: And I will also go after executives who are responsible for the decisions that have such bad consequences for our country.
SANDERS: I don't know and with all due respect to the secretary, Wall Street played by the rules? Who are we kidding? The business model of Wall Street is fraud. That's what it is.
And we have — and let me make this promise. One of the problems we have had — I think all Americans understand this, is whether it's Republican administrations or Democratic administrations, we have seen Wall Street and Goldman Sachs dominate administrations. Here's my promise– Wall Street representatives will not be in my cabinet.
Clinton. She did. She's the senator from New York. She worked — and many of us supported you — in trying to rebuild that devastation. But at the end of the day, Wall Street today has enormous economic and political power. Their business model is greed and fraud. And for the sake of our economy, they must — the major banks must be broken up.
Moderator: Senator Sanders — I'm sorry. Senator Sanders, but what is it in Secretary Clinton's record that shows you that she's been influenced by those donations?
SANDERS: Well, (inaudible) the major issue right now is whether or not we reestablish Glass-Steagall. I led the effort, unfortunately unsuccessfully, against deregulation because I knew when you merge large insurance companies and investment banks and commercial banks it was not going to be good. The issue now is do we break them up, do we reestablish Glass-Steagall? And Secretary Clinton, unfortunately, is on the wrong side.
CLINTON: Well, I'll tell you who is on my side. Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, who said my plan for what we should do to reign in Wall Street was more comprehensive and better. Paul Volcker, one of the leading lights of trying to reign in the excesses, has also said he does not support reinstating Glass-Steagall.
So, I mean this may seem like a bit of an arcane discussion. I have nothing against the passion that my two friends here have about reinstating Glass-Steagall. I just don't think it would get the job done. I'm all about making sure we actually get results for whatever we do.
O'MALLEY: John, there is not a serious economist who would disagree that the six big banks of Wall Street have taken on so much power and that all of us are still on the hook to bail them out on their bad bets. That's not capitalism, Secretary Clinton. That's crony capitalism. That's a wonderful business model. If you place bad bets, the taxpayers bail you out. But if you place good ones, you pocket it.
Look, I don't believe there's the model — there's lots of good people that work in finance, Secretary Sanders, but Secretary Clinton, we need to step up and we need to protect Main Street from Wall Street and you can't do that by — by campaigning as the candidate of Wall Street. I am not the candidate of Wall Street…