Standing up to Wall Street
Ron Wyden always takes on the tough fights, especially when it means standing up to powerful special interests on behalf of Oregonians. That is why he said no to the Wall Street bailout and fought to stop paying corporate executives at firms like AIG big bonuses with taxpayer money. It’s also why Ron pushed for strong protections for consumers from unscrupulous credit card companies and to end the “Enron Loophole” that ripped off small businesses and families by inflating electricity prices.
Fought the Wall Street Bailout
Ron Wyden was one of a small minority of Senators to vote against the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. He believed it was wrong for Wall Street executives to gamble money they didn’t have on foolish investments and then expect taxpayers to bail them out when their risky bets failed.
Wyden didn’t just reject President Bush's request for $350 billion, he also said “no” when President Obama came looking for $350 billion more. As always he put what he thought was right ahead of party politics and voted "no."
"The bailout package provides help to large institutional investors who took foolish risks," Wyden said. "Rather than extending assistance to get credit flowing at appropriate levels again to shore up confidence in our markets, it is likely that much of this money will go to those who don't deserve a taxpayer bailout for their miscalculations. Wealthy investors, who ought to know better, shouldn’t be allowed to gamble with taxpayer money."
Blew the Whistle on Paying Wall Street Bonuses With Tax Dollars
When Wall Street executives took over a billion dollars in bonuses paid for by our taxpayer dollars, Wyden took a stand. He brought together Democrats and Republicans to oppose this practice, introducing the Compensation Fairness Act of 2009. The legislation sought to impose a severe excise tax on individuals who received bonuses from taxpayer-funded bailout money. "Getting bailed out by the American taxpayer was more than enough of a bonus for these companies and individuals," said Wyden.
Ending “Too Big to Fail” and Financial Bailouts
To make sure that taxpayers are never again asked to underwrite the big banks or Wall Street firms, Ron Wyden supported the financial reform package that passed earlier this year. An independent review of the debate found that – 100% of the time – Wyden voted in the interest of consumers. Wyden knows more needs to be done to hold Wall Street accountable and he won’t rest until regular Americans are protected from Wall Street games.
Fighting to Stop Credit Card Rip-offs
For too long, American consumers have been exploited by credit card companies rigging the rules of the game, stacking on extra fees and jacking up interest rates. That’s why Ron Wyden voted for the law that reined in the predatory practices of credit card companies. The law makes it illegal for credit card companies to raise interest rates retroactively or charge interest on debt that is paid on time. It’s preventing late charge gimmicks by requiring that companies mail bills at least 21 days before they are due. And because credit card companies are notorious for victimizing young people, the now law requires teenagers to have a co-signer before getting a card that they may not be able to repay.
In 2007, Wyden joined with then-Senator Barack Obama to introduce legislation to provide consumers protection against high-risk credit cards. The legislation would give each credit card in America a rating of one to five stars - based on the risk to the consumer. The system would give consumers a way to judge the riskiness of a credit card offer without having to plow through all that fine print.
"These credit card debts are hitting Oregon families like a wrecking ball," said Wyden. "With the financial future of so many Americans dependent upon unreadable jargon in credit card documents, arming consumers with usable information is more critical than ever."
Closing the Enron Loophole
When Congress passed financial regulation in 2000, they exempted energy speculators who traded electronically from U.S. regulation - creating the "Enron Loophole." As a result, unscrupulous energy companies like Enron were able to drive up the price of energy through market manipulations - hurting American consumers and businesses. Ron Wyden stood up to demand we close the loophole, co-sponsoring legislation that was later adopted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.