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Washington Post: Sen. Sherrod Brown explains why he wants to break up the big banks

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Attorney General Eric Holder said something in Senate testimony that many had thought, but had never heard admitted at a high government level. “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them,” Holder said. Too big to fail, in other words, has become too big to jail. That’s got lawmakers talking about breaking up the banks again, if only to ensure that our basic laws can be reasonably enforced.

The financial industry is taking note. Hamilton Place Strategies released a white paper last month arguing against breaking up the largest banks, arguing that they provide a useful, important role in the global finance economy.

Most Ohioans would be surprised to know that the same Wall Street megabanks which received bailouts from taxpayers in 2009 also receive taxpayer-funded advantages today simply because of their “too big to fail” status. This taxpayer-supplied subsidy is wrong, and it puts community banks in Ohio at a competitive disadvantage.

This gives them access to cheaper funding and more favorable borrowing terms than dependable Main Street institutions – like Huntington Bank or The Peoples Bank in Coldwater, Ohio – simply because the market knows that the government would choose to bailout the Wall Street megabanks if they again reach the point of collapse.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said he and Senator David Vitter are working on a bipartisan bill to force big banks to set aside even more capital than currently required to assure they won’t need government bailouts.

The Ohio Democrat and Louisiana Republican have been working in tandem to keep the biggest banks — such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), whose assets exceed $2 trillion each — from benefitting from the perception that they’re too big to fail.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joins Cenk Uygur from Washington to discuss whether it’s likely that President Obama will cut Social Security and Medicare. “I want to trust the president mostly on this, but I also draw some lines too,” Brown says. “We have no business raising the retirement age for Medicare or Social Security. That’s a red line for me.”

Former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) discussed effective regulatory and supervisory policies for the global financial system and government intervention on too-big-to-fail financial institutions at the Peterson Institute on March 5, 2013. PIIE Senior Fellow Simon Johnson moderated the discussion.

More than 1,200 seniors in Scioto County have saved a total of $1 million, thanks to the donut hole in Medicare being partially closed, according to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Brown held a news conference outlining his three-point plan to reduce the deficit by lowering prescription drug costs for consumers and taxpayers. Brown, who chairs the Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy, also released a county-by-county report showing how reforms made through the health law have already saved nearly 179,000 Ohio seniors a combined $138.5 million on their prescription drug costs in 2012, with the average beneficiary saving $774. Since 2010, Ohio seniors have saved a combined $278,731,176.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) slammed Republican proposals to raise Medicare’s eligibility age as a slap in the face to working-class people.

Addressing a hospitals conference Tuesday, Brown motioned to his own suit and tie and said “people who dress like this — we can retire later.”

“The people who are cleaning your hotel room, the people who are serving dinner here … can’t work until they’re 70 years old,” Brown said.

Two U.S. senators said a Department of Justice response to their criticism that it didn’t criminally prosecute HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) for money laundering was “aggressively evasive.”

Senators Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, sent the Justice Department a letter on Jan. 29 asking whether the federal government avoids prosecuting banks that they described as “too big to jail.”

Judith C. Appelbaum, principal deputy assistant attorney general, defended what she called the department’s “vigorous enforcement against wrongdoing” in a letter to Brown dated Feb. 27.

Multi-trillion dollar financial institutions continue to get richer, exerting more and more control over both America’s economy and its political system. The top 20 largest banks’ assets are nearly equal to the nation’s gross domestic product.

Now, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with unlikely ally Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), is launching an effort to break up the taxpayer-funded party on Wall Street.

“The best example is that 18 years ago, the largest six banks’ combined assets were 16 percent of GDP. Today they’re 64-65 percent of GDP,” Brown said. “So the large banks are getting bigger and bigger, partly because of the financial crisis, partly because of the advantages they have.”