What happened to Wall Street reform?
by Jim Hightower
Gosh, has it been two years already? Time sure flies when you're dealing with a crisis.
It seems like only yesterday that Bear Stearns went down and most of Wall Street followed. As we know, the greed and unbridled excesses of the bankers didn't just crash their firms, but also devastated Main Street and millions of American families. Bankruptcies and mass job losses are still spreading across our land. The only thing good to come from the crisis is that public outrage forced Congress to overhaul banking regulations so the greedheads can't do this to us again.
How many of those vital reforms have been enacted, you ask? Well, there's... uh. Then there's the... uh. Well, actually, none. So the rules of the old Wall Street casino remain essentially unchanged two years after the debacle.
Why is that? Because, as senate banking committee chairman Chris Dodd succinctly put it, Wall Street bankers deployed "an army of lobbyists whose only mission is to kill the common sense financial reforms the public demands."
In addition to sending lobbyists and bales of campaign contributions to Washington, Wall Street also sent some of its executives to instruct senators on how reform should work. For example, Goldman Sachs dispatched a man to lecture the banking committee on dealing with the dangerous conflict of banks combining our consumer deposits with the business of high-risk hedge funds. Threats posed to little depositors, the Wall Street banker assured the senators, "can be effectively managed by means short of outright prohibition (of the conflict)." Just provide tough oversight, said the slick from Goldman Sachs.
Hello — Wall Street's wily coyotes specialize in subverting "tough oversight." But such self-serving sophistry gives cover to banker-friendly congress critters that want to stall — and ultimately kill — real reform.
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