Our goal, in concert with President Obama, was to tackle the financial abuse and unchecked greed and recklessness of Wall Street which, two years ago, shattered millions of American lives, eliminated about eight million jobs and trillions of dollars in savings and investments.
Hawai‘i was, by no means, immune—the economic disaster, created by Wall Street’s cavalier actions, was upon us like a tsunami. Our unemployment rate went from 4.1 percent in 2008 to 6.7 percent in 2010, and our foreclosure rate more than doubled over the past year. Family savings were lost, and familiar businesses—large and small—shut their doors. Hotel occupancy rates dropped, resulting in decreased state revenues and a record-breaking two-year deficit of $3.3 billion. Social services were curtailed. Government employees and school children were furloughed.
Although the origin of the “bad acts” was more than 5,000 miles away, it wreaked havoc on all aspects of our local economy. Something had to be done.
The Restoring American Financial Stability Act will hold Wall Street accountable, instituting strong consumer protections, preventing reckless risk-taking and ending taxpayer bailouts. It includes:
Strong Consumer Protections—A new bureau is established to provide consumers with information to make smart financial choices.
No Taxpayer Bail-outs—Taxpayers will be protected from bailing out large financial institutions and will force Wall Street to pay for its own mistakes.
Advanced Warning System/Transparency—The measure creates an advanced warning system to be on the lookout for troubled financial institutions and systemic risks posed by large investment firms to help prevent our nation from being brought to its economic knees again.
These past two years have been difficult for Hawai‘i’s families, who, until the economic bottom fell out, knew how to save for a home. You’d save to send your children to college, plan for retirement—even save for a trip to Disneyland or Las Vegas. It’s been a struggle.