THE BLOG

Banks Are Holding Us Hostage

01/11/2013 06:32 pm ET | Updated Mar 13, 2013

A Republican president allowed banks to screw us royally, and a Democratic one is letting them get away with it.

I just put down The New York Times and am thoroughly depressed, after reading about how banks not only ripped off homeowners by making abusive loans, ripped off the global economy, putting millions out of work, and then ripped off homeowners again with illegal foreclosures, but they also sabotaged the foreclosure review process, designed to make things right for homeowners.

The nation's 10 largest banks are holding us hostage, and no one in government has been willing to stand up to them, except for a handful of women and only one of them remains in office: Elizabeth Warren, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

Sheila Bair, formerly FDIC Chair, and Brooksley Born, former Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chair, took them on in the run-up to the economic crisis, but they left their positions after being scolded by Mr. Know-It-All and Wall Street apologist Tim Geithner, who basically told them to shut up and behave like good little girls during their service in government.

According to The New York Times, the foreclosure review process has been a gigantic mess, funneling more money to the consultants running it than to homeowners who have lost or are trying to save their homes.

Here are my questions:

If we can't trust banks to run a foreclosure review process with some amount of precision, how in the heck do we expect them to run the world's financial systems and not take us for a deep dive again?

If the federal regulators can't oversee a foreclosure review process and force the banks to run it properly, then how in the heck do we expect the regulators to regulate the Dodd-Frank reforms that are supposed to protect us from the banks, running the world already, in the future?

And, if Geithner as Treasury Secretary refused to hold both banks and their regulators accountable, why do we think Jack Lew will, being cut from the exact same cloth?

Lew, a former Citigroup executive, strikes me as just another soulless apologist for Wall Street. I don't know much about Lew, but what I do know tells me he is a bean counter who cares more about his numbers adding up on the page than helping people when they are in a time of need -- like families wrongly thrown out of their homes.

I hope I am wrong. I hope Lew will do what Geithner and President Obama refused to do or, at best, was not successful at doing: making sure banks play by the same rules as everyone else.

Already, though, banking regulations are being twisted in the big banks' favor. Even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has signed onto the "safe harbor" provision that saves -- not consumers -- but the big banks from being sued by home borrowers if it's later determined banks sold them an abusive loan. No other industry has such a "safe harbor" but we give it up to them because, simply put, they are holding us hostage.

If they don't prosper, our economy doesn't prosper.

But both the Bush and Obama Administrations have gotten it completely backward.

If our economy doesn't prosper, then the banks shouldn't either but, somehow, they always manage it. See today's latest headline.