Being the bleeding heart liberal that I am, my heart is really bleeding right now for all the poor oppressed Wall Street mega-bankers who are being blamed (with merely the overwhelming preponderance of evidence) for defrauding their clients and destroying our economy. I am so glad that they, and their sturdy defenders like the group of Republican Congresspeople led by Darrell Issa, are rising up and saying, "We aren't going to take it anymore." I think everyone deserves their day in court (especially these guys, preferably criminal court) and a chance to be heard, and I think everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves, no matter how low-life, greedy, scummy, and immoral they may actually be.
So I'm glad that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is doing a lot of complaining these days, and telling people that going against his company is "hurting America." I'm delighted that so many Republicans Congresspeople are still willing to defend Lloyd and his bank executive colleagues- after all, they only control assets worth 63% of the American GDP. I'm pleased that Republican Senators are showing absolutely no shame or embarrassment in meeting with big bank lobbyists behind close doors to plot strategy, and are still happily taking their money. Good for them.
In fact, some of the most blatant financial rip-off artists are even contemplating running for office. Jeff Greene, who CNBC described as "the man who shorted subprime" and became a billionaire in the process of helping wreck the economy, is actually talking about running for Senate in Florida. You have to admire the courage of someone as blatantly sleazy as Greene for considering getting into the political arena after all the damage his financial scheming did to the Florida economy. I hope more of these courageous financial fraud kings enter the political fray, because then their behavior will be front and center in the 2010 elections. God bless them, everyone.
The defenders of wealth and power are fighting back because, well, they kind of have to. Their reputations are in the toilet, and their massive political and economic power is being threatened. Legislation like the Brown-Kaufman bill to break up the banks is gaining a head of steam, which would be a profoundly important shift in the banking industry, and dramatically rein in their market power, their political power, and the impact on our overall economy if they failed, making bailouts unneeded in the future.
Readers of mine know I love my history, and this financial reform debate is reminding me increasingly of the biggest debates in American history of banking issues: the Jackson-Biddle battle in the 1830s, the populists and progressive attacks on big banks around the turn of the century a century ago, and FDR's New Deal finally reining in the banks that caused the Great Depression. Simon Johnson noticed the connection as well: check out this great post by him this morning.