Eliot Spitzer stays at the shallow end
Have you gone to Occupy Wall Street yourself?
I have not physically been there. The reason I haven't gone is partly it hasn't fit in the schedule, and partly because it is an organic, genuine grassroots event, and people who are either perceived as having been in politics or are perceived as being members of the media are not really the driving force behind it. I certainly plan to go.
Do you think that the 'Occupy' protesters should work within Democratic electoral politics to achieve their goals or do you think some kind of more radical approach is needed?
I'm not sure I would say more radical. I would say yes, you work within elective politics. I'm a firm believer that the democratic process is the best mechanism we have to actually change the policies of government.
It is also important to pursue the grassroots organising, which is part of the democratic process. Some of the great social transformations of our nation have been led by such activism. In fact, I would argue that that is exactly how fundamental social transformation begins and is led. It is not by large elective officials in halls of power who of their own volition decide to change society in a dramatic way. Just the opposite.
Obama has consistently called for more regulation of banks since 2008, but his administration has failed to prosecute anyone in connection to the financial crisis. Why do you think that is?
The president embraced a very status quo vision of Wall Street. He did not lead an effort to fundamentally reform the way our financial sector operates. He put Tim Geithner in as Treasury Secretary, and Geithner and [National Economic Council director Lawrence] Summers together were very much status quo voices.
Now when it comes to prosecutions, look, I've got to presume the good faith [why] on the part of the Justice Department. But I'm disappointed, as everybody else is. ....
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been prosecuting a lot of insider trading cases, mostly at hedge funds, over the past year. Why are these cases being pursued and not those related to the 2008 crisis?
I don't have the answer to that question. I don't want to diminish the insider trading cases they've made, but I think everybody should recognise those do not confront the structural problems on Wall Street. I don't want suggest that there's a bait-and-switch on the part of the SEC, that they're really intentionally distracting us [oh, go ahead], but those cases do not go to the heart of the problem. [which is?]
In a Slate.com column, you mentioned the importance of investing in young Americans. What do you see as the best way for the current administration to invest in the young?...
I would also support a major jobs programme. If you take the $100bn we're spending in Afghanistan and divide it by $20,000 a year that you could pay people, you could hire 5 million people. [Federal Jobs Guarantee!]
Do you think that such a bill would have a chance passing congress as it is comprised today?
Absolutely none at all, but the role of the president is to set the terms of debate [which Obama has done]. And part of the problem with President Obama is that he has been so muted and hesitant in his willingness to confront these major issues [category error]. He hasn't even come out with a serious mortgage reform proposal. We haven't dealt with the mortgage crisis and we haven't dealt with the jobs crisis. Those are the two major impediments holding back our economy.
Would you vote for Obama in 2012?
Absolutely. Because as disappointed as many people are that we haven't done enough, you couldn't stand President Obama next to a Rick Perry, a Michelle Bachmann, or Mitt Romney. There is no contest.
Nice guy, Spitzer. But.... Shallow. Very shallow. It's a shame!