We've risked rousing the ire of those excitable Bernie Bros a few times now by contemplating the possibility that Senator Sanders might be a little crazed off-base with his ideas about setting fire to reforming Wall Street, but sometimes he just makes it too easy.
Daily News: I know you've got to go in a second. When was the last time you rode the subway? Are you gonna a campaign in the subway?
Sanders: Actually we rode the subway, Mike, when we were here? About a year ago? But I know how to ride the subways. I’ve been on them once or twice.
Daily News: Do you really? Do you really? How do you ride the subway today?
Sanders: What do you mean, "How do you ride the subway?"
Daily News: How do you get on the subway today?
Sanders: You get a token and you get in.
Daily News: Wrong.
That's Bernie in an editorial board interview with the New York Daily News, and it fairly typifies the tenor of how well things went when Bernie once again launched into his broad, detail-free Wall Street attack rhetoric.
Here's how that portion kicked off...
Daily News: Okay. Well, would you name, say, three American corporate giants that are destroying the national fabric?
Sanders: JPMorgan Chase, and virtually every other major bank in this country. Let me be very clear, all right? I believe that we can and should move to what Pope Francis calls a moral economy.
Right now, there are still millions of people in this country who are suffering the results of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And when you have companies like Goldman Sachs and many other major banks reaching settlements with the United States government, as you're aware, for many billions of dollars, this is an implicit admission that they have engaged in illegal activity.
Aside from really naming only two "corporate giants," Bernie is just sticking to his talking points and offering nothing new or useful. And when given the chance to offer some more depth of detail to his anti-Wall Street plan, Bernie did this:
Daily News: Now, switching to the financial sector, to Wall Street. Speaking broadly, you said that within the first 100 days of your administration you'd be drawing up...your Treasury Department would be drawing up a too-big-to-fail list. Would you expect that that's essentially the list that already exists under Dodd-Frank? Under the Financial Stability Oversight Council?...You further said that you expect to break them up within the first year of your administration. What authority do you have to do that? And how would that work? How would you break up JPMorgan Chase?
Sanders: Well, by the way, the idea of breaking up these banks is not an original idea. It's an idea that some conservatives have also agreed to.
You've got head of, I think it's, the Kansas City Fed, some pretty conservative guys, who understands. Let's talk about the merit of the issue, and then talk about how we get there.
Right now, what you have are two factors. We bailed out Wall Street because the banks are too big to fail, correct? It turns out, that three out of the four largest banks are bigger today than they were when we bailed them out, when they were too-big-to-fail.
Well, Bernie didn't actually answer the question, but he did confuse the Kansas City Fed for the Minneapolis Fed. And maybe it's because he doesn't actually engage with Wall Street on any meaningful level, but Bernie seems to truly misunderstand the fact that most CEOs of large financial institutions are less obsessed with size than stability these days. Something he probably picked up on from all the news about MetLife last week...
Daily News: Okay. You saw, I guess, what happened with Metropolitan Life. There was an attempt to bring them under the financial regulatory scheme, and the court said no. And what does that presage for your program?
Sanders: It's something I have not studied, honestly, the legal implications of that.
But Bernie has been studying up on how he'll break up the DeathStar banks, right? He can't dodge this question forever...
Daily News: Okay. Well, let's assume that you're correct on that point. How do you go about doing it?
Sanders: How you go about doing it is having legislation passed, or giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are a danger to the economy over the problem of too-big-to-fail.
Daily News: But do you think that the Fed, now, has that authority?
Sanders: Well, I don't know if the Fed has it. But I think the administration can have it.
Daily News: How? How does a President turn to JPMorgan Chase, or have the Treasury turn to any of those banks and say, "Now you must do X, Y and Z?"
Sanders: Well, you do have authority under the Dodd-Frank legislation to do that, make that determination.
Daily News: You do, just by Federal Reserve fiat, you do?
Sanders: Yeah. Well, I believe you do.
He should have dodged it forever.
Belief is a wondrous thing, but it doesn't grant any government entity the power to order private institutions to do anything. Bernie could fine them and try to pay for his universal college fund, but "fiat'? That's very un-Bernie, Bernie.
In fairness, he attempted to clarify...
Daily News: Well, it does depend on how you do it, I believe. And, I'm a little bit confused because just a few minutes ago you said the U.S. President would have authority to order...
Sanders: No, I did not say we would order. I did not say that we would order. The President is not a dictator.
Daily News: Okay. You would then leave it to JPMorgan Chase or the others to figure out how to break it, themselves up. I'm not quite...
Sanders: You would determine is that, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination. If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.
Hey, we said "attempted."
Bernie was also pressed about the idea of what would happen to the local New York City economy if JPMorgan was forcibly broken up, impacting roughly 20,000 jobs in the city alone. He responded that the economy as a whole would be "Stronger" because banks would be forced to do things differently.
But if Bernie Sanders is trying to get a vote from a deli owner in midtown by freezing up liquidity and pushing thousands out of jobs out of Manhattan, he should grab a subway token and head home.