Sinema Wants Accountability for Bank Mess. Hand Her a Mirror.

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
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Call her a wolf for Wall Street.

After the feds declared that the depositors at the defunct Silicon Valley Bank are protected from loss, U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona shamelessly issued what she titled a “Statement on Steps to Protect the U.S. Banking System.”

“The federal government must now ensure those responsible are held accountable, while maintaining stability for all Americans who rely on our banking system,” she tweeted.

Sinema need only step in front of a mirror to find a prime suspect. Whether she’s calling herself a Democrat or an independent, her voting record is the same. And it marks her a shill for the banking industry.

Before she went from the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate, Sinema was party to an early effort by the banks to undo the provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was passed in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, she was a supporter of H.R.992—The Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act of 2013—which sought to exempt certain financial instruments from some Dodd-Frank restrictions. Bank lobbyists drafted key amendments, which appeared word for word in the bill she supported in the committee and when it reached the House floor. The measure passed, but this was during the Obama administration and it had no chance of becoming law.

Biden Claims U.S. Banking System Is ‘Safe’ After SVB Collapse

Sinema also co-sponsored other anti-regulation bills, including the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act of 2015, which includes provisions that Silicon Valley Bank President Greg Becker called for in testimony before Congress that year. That measure also failed to pass.

After Trump became president, Sinema and a majority of the House Financial Services Committee supported the far more extensive Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018. Sinema sponsored unrelated accompanying measures protecting children from identity theft and seniors from scammers. The immediate effect was to divert attention from the bill’s ultimate intention, which was to let the banks do whatever they want.

The bill came before the full house on May 22, 2018. It passed 258 to 159, with Sinema one of only 33 Democrats who voted yes.

“These important reforms will help protect the financial security of Arizonans young and old as they plan for homeownership, a college education, or a stable retirement,” she said in a press release.

Trump signed it into law as part of his effort to turn the financial system back into a red-light district for banks. Sinema successfully ran for Senate in 2018, with the help of more than $100,000 in contributions from financial interests, including three longtime lobbyists for Silicon Valley Bank.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-AZ, who voted against the 2018 bill, has announced that he will seek to unseat Sinema in 2024. He was not slow in pointing out the hypocrisy of her declaration that those to blame for the Silicon Valley Bank should be held to account.

“What’s the difference between Senator Sinema and me?” Gallego said in a statement. “When bank lobbyists asked me to weaken bank regulations, I said no. When they asked Senator Sinema, she asked how much—and voted yes. Now we are all going to pay for her mistake.”

Sinema did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, bank stocks were cratering on Monday despite the feds’ assurances to Silicon Valley Bank depositors. Sinema and Trump and everybody else who joined in relaxing the 2010 safeguards should indeed be held accountable for whatever else follows.

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