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[WASHINGTON] Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Monday that she supports tougher regulation of US banks, after her rival Bernie Sanders accused her of being soft on Wall Street.
Writing in The New York Times, Mrs Clinton said that if elected she would fight efforts from the Republican-controlled Congress to roll back reforms like the complex Dodd-Frank law designed to prevent a repeat of the devastating 2008 financial crisis.
She said bank executives need to be held accountable, including by facing jail time for any financial crimes committed.
And she said she would empower regulators to break up any bank or non-bank financial institution that proves "too large and risky to be managed effectively."
"As president, I would not only veto any legislation that would weaken financial reform, but I would also fight for tough new rules, stronger enforcement and more accountability that go well beyond Dodd-Frank," Mrs Clinton wrote.
In fact, she said, "We need to further rein in major financial institutions," including closing what she said are loopholes that "still allow banks to make speculative gambles with taxpayer-backed deposits." "The proper role of Wall Street is to help Main Street grow and prosper," Mrs Clinton wrote.
"Rather than pursuing the kind of high-stakes speculation that devastated our economy before, Wall Street should focus on building an economy that creates good-paying jobs, rising incomes and sound investments so that more families can achieve the security of a middle-class life."
The issue of bank regulation remains a potent theme in US politics seven years after the financial crisis that plunged the economy into a deep 18-month recession.
The public is often critical that while banks have been fined heavily for excesses, individual bankers were not punished.
Meanwhile, under pressure from the banking industry, a number of mostly Republican lawmakers have pushed to roll back reforms that have restricted the banks' riskiest behavior and forced them to build large capital cushions, at a cost to profitability.
Mr Sanders advocates much tougher actions to break up big banks and has accused Mrs Clinton of being beholden to her large donors from the financial sector.
But Mrs Clinton stressed that she would be tougher, expanding strict regulation to cover the entire sector.
"We need to tackle excessive risk wherever it lurks, not just in the banks," she said.