No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn't seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.
After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.
He had been lying to the public, all along. Not only would he not prosecute the banksters, but he would treat them as if all they had was "an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem." And he thought that the people who wanted them prosecuted were like the KKK who had chased Blacks with pitchforks before lynching. According to the DOJ, their Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) was "established by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes." But, according to the Department's IG, it was all a fraud: a fraud that according to the DOJ itself had been going on since at least November 2009.
The IG's report continued by pointing out the Attorney General's lies, noting that on 9 October 2012, "the FFETF held a press conference to publicize the results of the initiative," and:
"The Attorney General announced that the initiative resulted in 530 criminal defendants being charged, including 172 executives, in 285 criminal indictments or informations filed in federal courts throughout the United States during the previous 12 months. The Attorney General also announced that 110 federal civil cases were filed against over 150 defendants for losses totaling at least $37 million, and involving more than 15,000 victims. According to statements made at the press conference, these cases involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims and total losses estimated at more than $1 billion.
"Shortly after this press conference, we requested documentation that supported the statistics presented. ... Over the following months, we repeatedly asked the Department about its efforts to correct the statistics. ... Specifically, the number of criminal defendants charged as part of the initiative was 107, not 530 as originally reported; and the total estimated losses associated with true Distressed Homeowners cases were $95 million, 91 percent less than the $1 billion reported at the October 2012 press conference. ...
"Despite being aware of the serious flaws in these statistics since at least November 2012, we found that the Department continued to cite them in mortgage fraud press releases. ... According to DOJ officials, the data collected and publicly announced for an earlier FFETF mortgage fraud initiative -- Operation Stolen Dreams -- also may have contained similar errors."
Basically, the IG's report said that the Obama Administration had failed to enforce the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. This bill had been passed overwhelmingly, 92-4 in the Senate, and 338-52 in the House. All of the votes against it came from Republicans. The law sent $165 million to the DOJ to catch the executive fraudsters who had brought down the U.S. economy, and it set up the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and had been introduced and written by the liberal Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. President Obama signed it on 20 May 2009. At that early stage in his Presidency, he couldn't afford to display that he was far to the right of every congressional Democrat, so he signed it.
Already on 15 November 2011, Syracuse University's TRAC Reports had headlined "Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall," and provided a chart showing that whereas such prosecutions had been running at a fairly steady rate until George W. Bush came into office in 2001, they immediately plunged during his Presidency and were continuing that decline under Obama, even after the biggest boom in alleged financial fraud cases since right before the Great Depression. And, then, on 24 September 2013, TRAC Reports bannered "Slump in FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions," and said that "prosecutions of white collar criminals recommended by the FBI are substantially down during the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2013." This was especially so in the Wall Street area: "In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions -- 27.8 percent -- was the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)."
Another recent report documents lying by the
Administration regarding its promised program to force banks to compensate
cheated homeowners for fraud in their mortgages, and sometimes even for
evictions that were based on those frauds. The investigative journalist David
Dayen headlined on 19 March 2014, "Just 83,000 Homeowners Get First-Lien Principal Reductions
from National Mortgage Settlement, 90 Percent Less Than Promised."
He documented that, "the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
sold the settlement on a promise of helping 1 million homeowners, and the
final number missed the cut by over 916,000. That ... shows the
essential dishonesty [Obama's HUD Secretary Shaun] Donovan displayed in
his PR push back in 2012. ... We're used to the Obama Administration falling
far short of their goals for homeowner relief, whether because of a
lack of interest or a desire to foam the runway for the banks or whatever.
Even still, the level of duplicity is breathtaking."
Historians will have a hard time deciding whether Obama was the most corrupt President -- even more corrupt than Grant, Harding, and G.W. Bush -- but certainly he is one of the four most corrupt. The evidence that he is presiding over an Administration in which aristocrats can do anything they want and commit any crime with total impunity, extends not just to Obama's protection of George W. Bush from prosecution, but to his protection of Wall Street CEOs from prosecution. Only blue-collar crooks are pursued by him; white-collar ones get off easy, and mega-corporate CEOs (as well as torturers and their masters in the former Administration, and the traitors who lied this nation into invading Iraq) are totally immune from prosecution by him.
Perhaps there will be a positive side to his Presidency, maybe Obamacare or some other major policy he has introduced, but none of the other three super-corrupt Presidents is rated by historians above the very bottom of the U.S. Presidential barrel; and Obama's Presidency seems extremely likely to be rated somewhere in that league: among the all-time worst U.S. Presidents.
I say this as a historian with the values of a progressive Democrat, and not at all as any sort of conservative. Conservatives favor corrupt leaders; fascism is inherently corrupt and is the extremity of conservatism. By contrast, no progressive can accept corruption. Whereas corruption is acceptable to conservatives, it's a violation of the most basic progressive value, which is accountability. Whereas conservatives believe only in responsibility (such as of employees to their employer), progressives believe in that plus, especially, in accountability (such as of an employer to his employees). In the view of a progressive, obligations run both ways -- up and down the power-hierarchy -- and not only downward. Obama is fundamentally a conservative, who parades in Democratic rhetoric. The reports and studies that have been presented here are convincing proof of that.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.