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August 27, 2015

Public Frustration Still Fuels Banking Debate

“Nearly seven years after the financial crisis, the uncomfortable truth for the banking industry is that populist anger remains alive and well.

“Public skepticism of large financial institutions has permeated the debate on Capitol Hill and around Washington, defining the contours of the fight over regulatory policy.

“It is also increasingly seeping into the campaign trail, with presidential contenders on both sides of the aisle bashing the biggest banks.

“When you have everybody from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz criticizing Wall Street, that tells you that the polls are telling them this is a serious issue that the American people care about,” said Dennis Kelleher, head of the consumer advocacy group Better Markets.”

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“Kelleher pointed to former Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in the Virginia primary last summer — a historic upset — which he said was at least partially due to frustration over Wall Street.

“The crooks up on Wall Street and some of the big banks — I’m pro-business, I’m just talking about the crooks — they didn’t go to jail, they are on Eric’s Rolodex,” said Rep. David Brat, R-Va., Cantor’s primary opponent at the time, before going on to win the general election.

“Cantor lost in no small measure because he forgot that voters want their own interests represented,” Kelleher concluded in a June 2014 memo with Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg. “[I]gnoring voters’ anger with Wall Street — and its protectors in Washington — comes at incumbents’ own peril.”

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Read the full American Banker article by Victoria Finkle here.

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