RJ Eskow bends over so far backwards to give Obama the benefit of the doubt he falls down
Here's a post from RJ Eskow at Bill Moyers' place that might have been useful, pre-midterms, in 2010, but not now.
Obama Sounds a Warning to Wall Street
"Words are wind," as they say on Game of Thrones. And these are words in 2014! And not in 2009, when we remember -- as Eskow, one can only assume, does not -- that Obama told the banksters that "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." That's what Obama said when his words might have made some difference. Eskow goes on to give a litany of things Obama could do:
And for all its eloquence, there were some significant omissions from the president’s remarks. Nothing was said, for example, about his own Justice Department’s failure to indict bankers who bet illegally, defrauding customers and investors in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
The president’s stated goal of deterrence, along with basic principles of justice, called for prosecutions. Instead, this president and his then-Treasury Secretary publicly proclaimed that bankers were innocent, against all evidence and without investigation.Robert Kuttner and Matt Taibbi on Wall Street Reform
That failure to prosecute was especially conspicuous when the president said this:
“Some of the work to get that done, though, involves restructuring the banks themselves — how they work internally. Right now, if you are in one of the big banks, the profit center is the trading desk, and you can generate a huge amount of bonuses by making some big bets; you will be rewarded on the upside. If you make a really bad bet, a lot of times you’ve already banked all your bonuses.”
That’s absolutely right, and it’s to the president’s credit that he says so. It’s especially true when the bonuses in question were earned by engaging in illegal behavior.
But President Obama has a great deal more power to change the situation than one might be inclined to believe from this brief interview. He can challenge Mary Jo White, his appointee to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, for her attempts to eviscerate some of Dodd-Frank’s reforms. (David Dayen has further details.) He can direct his Justice Department to crack down on ongoing abuses of the fraud-enabling MERS mortgage database.
Obama can also invite William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve, over to the Oval Office to explain why he has said that “there is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions,” and that Wall Street banks display an “apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust.”
Better yet, Obama can appoint Dudley to a special commission charged with rooting out Wall Street abuses, pressuring regulators to enforce current law, and make recommendations for additional legislation.
The president should immediately direct his Treasury Department to spend the rest of the money allocated for helping distressed homeowners, revamping the often-shameful legacy of his Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).
He can also heed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and stop appointing members of the “Citigroup clique” to his administration. (This bank, created with the assistance of the Clinton Treasury Department, has been a primary source of revolving-door appointments under both the Clinton and Obama administrations.)
Danielle Douglas outlines other steps the president can take in the Washington Post, including modifications to banker pay and incentives and additional limits to bank risk-taking.
Longer-term, the president can look to Europe (and Switzerland in particular) for solutions to the perverse pay incentives which lead bank executives astray.
Then there’s the mega-bank problem. As Jennifer Taub notes, the preamble to the Dodd-Frank bill specifically mentions the profound economic threat of “too big to fail” banks. Much more needs to be done to address this critical problem, including a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and a wind-down of banks that pose systemic threats.
Why has the president raised this subject now? That’s a matter for speculation. One hopes he’s preparing to take action, or at a minimum to offer some specific proposals. If not, he’s presumably concerned about his legacy should things go wrong somewhere down the road.
Dear Lord. Obama doesn't give a shit about his "legacy," unless by that we mean his speaking fees, which presumably will challenge Clinton's (Bill, that is, not Hillary or, gawd save us, Chelsea's). Obama's a made man!
And at this point, frankly, I don't know what, if anything, Obama does care about, except whacking people, of course.
So I can't imagine what Obama's purpose here can be; possibly, aided by Eskow, to kick the can down the road by suggesting his heart's in the right place (remember that one?)
Needless to say, there is exactly on thing that will restore trust in America's government (even if it's too late for Obama): Banksters, in orange jumpsuits, doing the perp walk. CEOs, too. None of this penny ante insider trading shit, and none of these "cost of doing business"-sized fines.
And that will never happen, not under Obama, nor under any legacy party candidate I can imagine. So if you want this, vote against the incumben wherever you are.