by Dee Newman
On November 4, 1999, Senator Byron Dorgan said on the Senate floor: "I want to sound a warning call today about this legislation . . . I think this legislation is just fundamentally terrible."
The legislation was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (known as Gramm Leach Bliley). It allowed banks to merge with insurance companies and investment houses. Senator Dorgan was, at the time, one of only eight senators who vote against the Bill, including Senators Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Shelby, Tom Harkin and Richard Bryan.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone also opposed the bill, warning at the time that Congress was "about to repeal the economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place."
Ten years later, these senators have been vindicated. Their warnings that banks would become "too big to fail" have proven basically true in the wake of the current financial crisis.
Senator Dorgan's claim at the time that Congress would "look back ten years time and say we should not have done this" seems eerily prophetic.