Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a town hall at the Fort Museum on May 4, 2019 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Stephen Maturen—Getty Images
May 9, 2019 12:25 PM EDT

(Bloomberg) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have accused banks of acting as “modern-day loan sharks” and called on Congress to enact a federal limit of 15% on credit-card interest rates.

The two self-identified Democratic Socialists are set to propose legislation on Thursday capping rates on credit card and other consumer loans and letting post offices offer low-cost basic financial services, such as checking and savings accounts and loans.

An outline of the plan released ahead of their formal announcement sharply criticized banks for charging an average 17.17% interest on credit card balances while they are able to borrow money at less than 2.5%.

“Today’s loan sharks wear expensive suits and work on Wall Street, where they make hundreds of millions of dollars in total compensation by charging sky-high fees and usurious interest rates,” the statement said.

With Republicans in control of the Senate, the proposal has little chance of becoming law any time soon.

Sanders is running for president as a progressive, in contrast to former Vice President Joe Biden, the current front-runner in the race who is offering a more centrist alternative to a largely left-leaning field of 21 Democratic contenders. By teaming up with Ocasio-Cortez he’s drawing on a high-profile fellow progressive with strong appeal to younger voters. The new proposal highlights the way he will make taking on Wall Street and corporations a recurring theme in the 2020 contest. That was also a key driver of his unsuccessful campaign against Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

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