The day of reckoning may be at hand.
This week, the venerable investment bank Morgan Stanley stunned a generation of Wall Street bankers and traders by announcing that it was capping cash bonuses for 2011 at $125,000. Its top executives, including the chief executive, James P. Gorman, and his management team, will receive zero cash. And the Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, reignited a national debate over taxing the rich and Wall Street pay by revealing that his tax rate was in the 15 percent range, joining the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett among the ranks of the favored few who pay lower rates than people earning just a small fraction of their millions. Mr. Romney hasn’t revealed his tax returns or total income, but disclosure forms indicate he received $9.6 million in 2010 and part of 2011 and had a net worth in excess of $250 million, much of it derived from his days as head of the private equity firm Bain Capital.