With President Obama's campaign officially underway, two journalists examine why his promise to end "business as usual" on Wall Street has amounted to more, well, business as usual on Wall Street. "Casting Romney as a plutocrat will be easy enough," write Peter Boyer and Peter Schweizer at the Daily Beast. "But the president's claim as avenging populist may prove trickier, given his own deeply complicated, even conflicted, relationship with Big Finance."
Among the highlights:
- Obama's choice of Eric Holder as attorney general signaled to Wall Street that the president would play nice—because Holder, like other Justice officials, came from Covington & Burling, an elite law firm that had represented Wall Street firms. "Obama delivered heated rhetoric, but his actions signaled different priorities," write Boyer and Schweizer.
- "Justice's inaction regarding the big Wall Street firms is not for a lack of suspicious activity": Three government investigations found wrong-doing on Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs' creation of a mortgage-backed security investment in 2007 that "seemed designed to fail."
- In his state of the union speech, Obama promised to create a "special unit" to investigate Wall Street funny business, but at the same time, Justice officials were seeking a settlement with five major banks that some attorneys general found far too lenient.
The Justice Department says banks were more greedy and immoral than law-breaking, "but the powers of the Justice Department are immense, and a more aggressive prosecutor surely could have found cases to make." Click for the full article
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