For about 16 months, we have been hearing that the settlement talks with the big banks are just about to close, but they never do, and it's clear that the major holdup now is bankers crying themselves a river, weeping, moaning, and gnashing their teeth.
If we want crooks behind bars -- and if want to stop future financial crimes -- we need to rebuild the foundation for effective prosecutions by appointing regulators who believe in the mission and have a proven record of success.
Given the administration's feeble record on prosecutions to date, the critics are right to flag the likelihood that people like Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC enforcement chief Robert Khazumi will try to sandbag Eric Schneiderman. But they shouldn't underestimate him.
If Obama wants to run against Wall Street in the 2012 campaign, he needs credibility to do it, and he took a big step toward getting it last night. But victory can't be declared until the banks actually move several hundred billion in mortgage writedowns, and some indictments are issued.
Patti Smith wasn't wrong when she sang that "People have the powe." We do have the power to win a battle or two, even against those guys on Wall Street. We have more power than we realize -- but only if we're willing to use it.
Lately we've been hearing some strong words from the President about Wall Street crime. But when the cameras and lights aren't around, his Administration's been working feverishly to protect bankers from state law enforcement officials.