Last Saturday, I hosted three town halls in my district and as you can imagine, the questions ran the gamut. But time and again, I heard from so many of my constituents about their troubles in this difficult economy. Whether it was recently laid off workers, students unsure if they can afford a 32% hike in their fees after five consecutive years of tuition hikes, laid off workers unable to collect unemployment insurance, employers who can’t acquire the capital they need to expand, or homeowners trying to save their properties from foreclosure, our people are hurting, and it’s our job in Washington to fix it.

We’re all now painfully aware that our financial sector was permitted to run amuck under the previous administration and our government failed to stop it. To address this problem, today I proudly cast my vote for H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While I think more expansive reforms of the financial sector are necessary, this legislation is an important first-step that will go far in helping to protect consumers, investors, homeowners, and tenants.

Under this legislation, consumers will finally have a federal regulator with teeth ready to battle predatory financial firms. We will stop financial conglomerates from becoming ‘too big to fail’ and provide legal and financial assistance to homeowners and tenants trying to save their homes. For the first time in U.S. history, we will regulate the over-the-counter derivatives marketplace, where millions of contracts between large banks have gone unregulated for years. We also require most private equity and hedge fund advisors to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and expand the SEC’s staff and anti-fraud capabilities. We also require full disclosure of financial firms’ compensation structures and give shareholders the opportunity to give an advisory vote on executive compensation practices. With millions of Americans unemployed, including tens of thousands in my district, we can’t afford further delay on this important package.

With my vote, I’m sending a simple message: no more. No more to abusive lending practices, no more to loopholes that allow billions of dollars between large firms to go unregulated, no more to a system that prioritizes short term profit in one sector over the long term health of an entire economy.

For eight years as California’s Insurance Commissioner, I regulated the largest financial industry in America: its insurance companies. Now I’m prepared to take this experience and use it to stop abusive practices in our banking industry. The games have to stop; it’s time we created an economy that focuses on the needs of Main Street, not just Wall Street.

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) represents California’s 10th Congressional District. You can follow Congressman John Garamendi on his new Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Congressman John Garamendi

Congressman John Garamendi