Senator Harkin is making an excellent point: Prior to the CFMA of 2000 customer funds could not be invested in other than municipal or US Government debt fully guaranteed by the US Government.
And the Republicans want less regulation, not more, and they are not calling for people to go to prison and every dime missing taken back from the executives who ran the company so the customers are made whole.
As it stands right now any account you hold at any brokerage can be effectively stolen through being lost via the same mechanism. Got that? Good. Your 401k, IRA, anything — all at risk.
Now here's the disingenuous part of this: It wasn't the “investment” that led to the problem. It was off-balance-sheet games that led to the exposure and leverage being hidden from regulators, customers and investors. Yet nobody is calling for an immediate end right now to those games.
Senator Harkin, incidentally, voted against repealing Glass-Steagall.
When you're right, you're right – and Senator Harkin is right.
He just doesn't go far enough.