We are within reach of an historic breakthrough in the long and arduous battle to modernize the U.S. financial system. The big question is whether the politicians have the wisdom to allow sufficient time for a comprehensive legislative package to take shape.

It's been clear to experts for decades that a narrowly specialized, separately regulated thrift industry is not viable in the modern financial world. The Hunt Commission suggested, nearly 25 years ago, a series of measures to address the incipient problems in the thrift industry.

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