When Will Obama Get Tough On Financial Crimes?
David Cay Johnston wonders why President Obama isn’t acting to stop the growing banking fraud epidemic in his new column, “Where’s The Fraud, Mr. President?”
Another sort of financial crime was discussed when Steve Kroft, interviewing Obama for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” cited a poll showing that 42 percent of Americans believe Obama’s policies favor Wall Street. Kroft said he suspects that is because “there’s not been any prosecutions, criminal prosecutions, of people on Wall Street.”
Obama deftly avoided the issue. “Some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn’t illegal. That’s exactly why we had to change the laws.”
Shame on Kroft for not following up with the obvious question: “Where are the prosecutions of those who did commit crimes, Mr. President?”
There is no need for new laws to rein in fraud, the evidence of which is pervasive, reported in detail by our savviest journalists, thoroughly documented in academic reports and in all manner of official government reviews.
Obama then ever so subtly shifted gears, telling Kroft “and that’s why we put in place the toughest financial reform package since FDR and the Great Depression. And that law is not yet fully implemented…”
Obama’s words neatly conflated two separate issues.
One is atrocious business judgment that should have wiped out the wealth of those who invested in the speculative derivatives casinos. That might have restored Wall Street as a home to investment houses that marshaled capital for productive investments.
The other issue is fraud.