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General News    H4'ed 3/24/10

After Healthcare, The Next Big Fight is Financial Reform

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Message Danny Schechter

The public is just not as informed about complicated financial issues. Their eyes glaze over with all the talk of derivatives and credit default swaps. Those favoring needed reforms still don't offer a popularly understood narrative based on morality as well as insider economic analysis. Few commentators outside the business press are talking about it.

This is why I made a new film Plunder, The Crime of Our Time investigating the crisis as a crime story. Because that's what it is!

The Banks do understand the scale of the problem and the depths of anger by their customers. As a result, they are upping their touchy-feeling TV ads and fielding the biggest army of lobbyists in history to confuse, complicate, contain and, where possible cancel proposed reforms. It was reported that there were 6-8 lobbyists for each Member of Congress working against health care reform. On bank reform issues, it's 25-1. Banks have the money and target it on politicians as a prudent investment to foster a climate that will allow them to make even more.

So far, the coalition for financial reform is not as large or organized as the movements championing health care reform. The AFL-CIO has resorted to guerilla theater, not guerilla warfare, a la the Tea Partiers. Most informed observers, to quote a Bidenism, know this issue is the real big F**k'in deal.

Even as more financial scandals surface, there is far too little follow up, not to mention investigations and denunciations. One report on reveals, "since the financial crisis erupted in 2008, the FBI's 1,000-agent New York office has tripled its mortgage fraud investigations squad and beefed up its securities and financial fraud group.

"The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center says it received 336,655 fraud complaints last year related to financial losses of $560 million, double the dollar amount reported the year before."

Progressives don't seem to appreciate the scale of this problem or how it could be turned into THE issue to organize around. In contrast, the right just wants to ignore it because it believes the private sector can do no wrong.

Recently, documents surfaced from the Lehman bankruptcy showing how that company cooked the books along with many others in the industry. But, what's being done about it, asks former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and Josh Rosner, the managing director of an independent financial services research firm, writing:

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist -- and certainly not an accountant -- to deduce one thing from the Lehman scandal. The misleading of regulators, investors and the public did not happen in isolation. Like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Fannie/Freddie, CDOs, Bear, AIG, bond insurers, GM, Chrysler, CIT, California, Greece and the countless others wrapped up in this crisis, Lehman is "symptomatic of a banking system bent on finding ways to hide risk from the investing public and regulatory community." "

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See
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