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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 7/27/17

Can Chuck Schumer Lead the Democrats to "Unity" on Economic Issues?

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"Eisinger: The first thing they could have done is created a task force, a big, giant task force to address a variety of financial crisis-era cases. People should remember, the financial crisis hits in the end of the Bush administration. The height is September. The election is in November. All the firms that collapse, the criminal investigations are going on, and the late Bush administration folks who are on their way out don't take a series of serious decisions and let the investigations start to percolate. That's the first mistake.

"The Obama administration inherits that mistake, but they compound it by not doing anything about it. One thing they needed to do was create a task force where you figuratively lock 50 prosecutors in a room together to look at -- five needed to look at Lehman Brothers, and 10 needed to look at the CDO business, and five needed to look at Citi, and six needed to look at JP Morgan, etc., etc. If you had, they would have found crimes.

"In fact, what happens is they don't really look in a serious way. Whenever you hear Eric Holder or Preet Bharara or Lanny Breuer saying, 'We looked seriously and nobody ever presented us a criminal case without a doubt prosecuting a high-level individual,' the secret is that they didn't look. That was mistake number one.

"Sirota: What are the continuing effects of the Justice Department culture that the Obama administration basically helped cement?

"Eisinger: The day-to-day legacy now is that the Department of Justice has lost the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives. This is the flip side. [We] know about mass incarceration and the scandal of that, and that we disproportionately punish mostly poor, mostly people of color, in this country. This is the flip side of that, which is that we allow the rich and powerful to commit crimes with impunity if they are in executive positions at major corporations. That is a scandal, and it undermines the fairness and justice of our system and the rule of law.

"The Obama administration has contributed to it. What they do now is they settle with corporations rather than focusing on prosecuting individuals. They have lost the skill set to do with it, because settling with corporations is so easy and because of the way settlements come about, which is that we have outsourced and privatized investigations to the corporations themselves. It's basically like allowing Pablo Escobar to hire the major law firm of Medellin to investigate whether Escobar is dealing drugs or not. That surprisingly is an investigation that might yield a few street-level drug users but is not going to actually implicate Pablo himself."
And note the Obama administration -- confirmed process for handling major white-collar crime:
"[Eisinger:] We have corporations who have a scandal. They hire a law firm. The law firm does the investigation. The investigation is studiously incurious about going to the top levels, and worse than that, they negotiate, then they hand the results to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice looks over it, and then comes up with some kind of fine that the shareholders pay. The executives don't pay it. The company, the piece of paper has to pay it, but that comes out of shareholder pockets. Then those prosecutors, many of them, go to work for those law firms themselves after a few years. That is a deeply corrupt process."
"That is a deeply corrupt process." Not only that, but everyone in America knows it. These are the voters who think "the rules of the economy are rigged" and "[the very rich] have a stranglehold on Washington." Do Americans expect the Democratic Party, as currently led, to change any of this? Will a slogan -- "A Better Deal" do it?

No, Mr. Schumer, Democrats are deeply divided on "economic policy" -- dead-opposite divided in fact. And in other fact, Chuck Schumer is Wall Street's Democrat. Will he change his spots?

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. Seems to me though, you have to change the singers, not just music, to get a different sound from the choir. On the other hand, you go to war with the singers you have, my more hopeful friends tell me. Let's see how this plays out.

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A writer who contributes to a number of publications, including digby's Hullabaloo, Down With Tyranny, Naked Capitalism, Truthout and Alternet.

On Twitter — @Gaius_Publius

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