... in the Grant administration it was wheeling, dealing, and outright corruption that plagued the nation and besmirched the incumbent. And now that trillions are sloshing up and down K Street, the same muckraked fate looms for the Obama administration.
After being inaugurated in 1933, Roosevelt proclaimed, "The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization." This wasn't just aspirational rhetoric; it was directional policy. So he closed the banks, temporarily, and drafted legislation that led to major changes in the regulation of not only banks but also of stock brokerages and utilities. Indeed, all of corporate America was transformed. In his inaugural address, Obama attacked "greed and irresponsibility," adding that sometimes "the market can spin out of control." But few will remember those words, because it's unlikely that anyone will remember Obama as a financial reformer.
If anything, the financiers are more solidly in charge now than they were during George W. Bush's presidency, when the New York Times declared that "Government
Sachs" was a reality. Today, such figures as Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, and Steven Rattner are accelerating the Bush era's finance-favorable policies, piling bailout on top of bailout. Even nonfinancial policies are being drafted to serve Wall Street; the "cap-and-trade" greenhouse gas proposal, for example, would do more to boost the bottom line of neo-Enronesque pollution mongers than to reduce carbon dioxide.
How did this happen? As economist Simon Johnson observed recently, "A whole generation of policymakers has been mesmerized by Wall Street." And now Obama seems similarly ensorcelled. ...