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In fiery speech, Warren calls for limiting size of banks

Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday morning that “we have to pick up the slingshots again” in the David versus Goliath battle.

AP File

Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday morning that “we have to pick up the slingshots again” in the David versus Goliath battle.

WASHINGTON – Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday morning that “we have to pick up the slingshots again” in the David versus Goliath battle with big banks.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who entered politics as a critic of big banks, used a fiery speech at George Washington University Law School marking five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers to renew her call to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, aimed at limiting the size and scope of banks, which are federally insured.

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“It would reduce ‘too big’ by dismantling the behemoths,” she said. “Big banks would still be big – but not too big to fail or, for that matter, too big to manage, too big to regulate, too big for trial, or too big for jail.”

The act was repealed during the Clinton administration. Her bill to reinstate it is cosponsored by senators John McCain, an Arizona Republican, Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, and Angus King, a Maine Independent who often sides with Democrats.

The speech drew standing applause for Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor who is particularly popular on college campuses.

Warren said that the four biggest banks have grown 30 percent since the financial collapse, increasing the “too big to fail” problem that forced the government bailout and hurt the overall economy. She said despite the flaws of the financial overhaul known as Dodd-Frank, “I would have voted for it twice.”

She blamed “intense pressure” from the financial services industry for preventing regulators from writing 60 percent of the rules required under the Dodd-Frank legislation.”

Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.
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