The Massachusetts Senator and Wall Street watchdog discusses a Democratic plan, Hillary Clinton’s new nonprofit and all the tattoos she inspired
Do you think the Democratic Party has put forth a clear, alternative vision to Trump’s?
No! If we had, we’d be in the majority in the House and Senate and we’d have the White House. Look at the core elements: Every kid is entitled to an education without getting crushed by student-loan debt. Raise the minimum wage. Make bigger investments in infrastructure. Expand Social Security. More banking regulations. Make people at the top pay their fair share in taxes. All of those are supported by the American people by about 2 to 1. The progressive agenda is America’s agenda.
Republicans have argued that the financial-reform law Dodd-Frank capped growth and limited lending. Is there any truth to that?
There’s a problem with the Republican argument: facts. Lending is at an all-time high. Small banks and large banks have made money available. The difference now is that they can’t cheat people.
You’re the godmother of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Should Americans worry about the changes planned for it in the new House bill?
The agency is a watchdog to make sure that families don’t get cheated. The Republican bill is about leashing up the watchdog.
Your new book, This Fight Is Our Fight, is in large part about that.
It’s about the long arc: coming out of the Great Depression all the way to now and how America once used the twin tools of regulation and progressive taxation to build a strong middle class. And how trickle-down economics have taken the legs out from underneath our middle class.
You’ve been adamant about–
About separating commercial and investment banking. Why?
Enthusiastic is the word you meant! Yes. I am very enthusiastic about reinstating a 21st century Glass-Steagall.
White House adviser Gary Cohn is apparently on the same page. Have you talked to him about this?
We had a joint meeting with Cohn and Republican and Democratic Senators on the Banking Committee behind closed doors. That’s when I spoke directly with him. I had witnesses! In fact, one of my Republican colleagues said to me, partway through my exchange with Mr. Cohn, “What? Did you really mean to say that?”
Hillary Clinton is getting back into politics with a new nonprofit. Are you concerned that it doesn’t have to disclose donors?
I have just now seen it, so I don’t know about the details. But what I do know is that the groups she’s identified to help are all terrific groups.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” when he tried to prevent you from criticizing a colleague on the Senate floor. That sounds like a campaign slogan.
It’s also a great tattoo.
Which would you prefer?
The tattoo, no doubt. I have had so many people come up and show me nevertheless, she persisted tattoos. They have made it their connection to America’s future. They will not sit down and be quiet. Not ever again.
When was the last time someone showed you a tattoo?
Just the other night. She said, “I’m in forever, I’m in this fight.” I just love it.
That sounds like encouragement to run.
Well, it sounds like encouragement to make a change here in Washington.
This appears in the June 05, 2017 issue of TIME.