Hillary Rodham Clinton was attacked by both opponents at the Democratic debate Saturday for not being tough enough on Wall Street—including a pitched argument in which Sen. Bernie Sanders declared, "Who are we kidding? The business model of Wall Street is fraud."
Sanders and former Gov. Martin O’Malley went after Clinton for her refusal to call for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era banking law that barred commercial banks from engaging in riskier investment banking. That provision was repealed under President Bill Clinton.
Clinton defended her position by claiming that her plan for Wall Street went beyond regulating the big banks and would include other parts of the financial industry.
“AIG was not a big bank. It had to be bailed out and it nearly destroyed us," she said. "Lehman Brothers was not a big bank. It was an investment bank, and its bankruptcy and its failure nearly destroyed us.” She went on to suggest that there was a point at which she would consider breaking up large financial institutions. “If the big banks don’t play by the rules, I will break them up.”
Sanders said that Clinton’s position did not go far enough. “With all due respect to the secretary, Wall Street? ‘Play by the rules?’ Who are we kidding? The business model of Wall Street is fraud.”
Sanders also criticized Clinton for her donations from the financial industry: “Let’s not be naive about it. Why over her political career has Wall Street been the major political contributor to Hillary Clinton? Now maybe they’re dumb, but I don’t think so.”
Clinton defended her donations from the financial industry by citing, of all things, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11. When we were attacked—where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan, where Wall Street is.”