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Bernie Sanders Wants to Break Up the Big Banks With a New Bill

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday introduced a bill that would break up big banks, including J. P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The bill will also target large financial companies that aren’t banks, such as Berkshire Hathaway, Prudential Financial, MetLife, and American International Group.

The bill, first reported by CNBC, would require financial groups with a total exposure of greater than 3% of gross domestic product, which amounts to about $584 billion today, to break up. Sanders introduced the bill, which is co-sponsored in the House by California’s Rep. Brad Sherman, on the 10-year anniversary of the federal government’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

“No financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation’s economic well being,” Sanders said in a statement about the proposed bill. “We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street: the policy of ‘too big to fail.'”

Leftist grassroots organizing responded to this “too big to fail” policy via the Occupy Wall Street movement. The movement served in some ways as a catalyst for some of the socialist and anarchist organizing happening around big government today.

“Too big to fail should be too big to exist,” Sherman said of the bill. “Never again should a financial institution be able to demand a federal bailout. Today they can claim: ‘if we go down, the economy is going down with us.’”

Sanders has positioned himself as an ally to working class Americans. During the 2016 presidential election primaries he ran his campaign as a democratic socialist and has continued to advocate for workers. In recent months, Sanders has supported Amazon workers organizing for higher wages, which became reality on Tuesday with the company raising its minimum wage to $15/ hour.