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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/28/13

Congress Still Puts Out for Wall Street

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Source: Truthdig

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What does it take to make a Wall Street banker squirm with shame? Not content with having swindled tens of millions of Americans out of their homes and life savings, the very bankers who caused the biggest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression are now subverting government regulations designed to prevent comparable disasters in the future. 

Top of the list of those responsible are the hustlers at Citigroup, once the world's largest financial conglomerate, and a leading practitioner of the sordid behavior that caused the housing meltdown. Indeed, Citigroup was allowed to form as a merger of the investment banking of Travelers and the federal insured commercial banking of Citicorp only because lobbyists for those institutions successfully engineered the reversal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law that had banned such combinations.

Then when the new monster banks moved to exploit the subprime housing market with all sorts of financial gimmicks, their lobbyists succeeded in freeing all such trading in so called derivatives from any significant regulation.

The banks were so successful in marketing those often toxic assets that the federal government had to step in when the bubble burst and save Citigroup from bankruptcy, with a direct infusion of $45 billion in taxpayer funds and a guarantee of more than $300 billion of Citigroup's bad paper. 

You would think that the consequence of such destructive behavior would be a profound erosion of the ability of Citigroup and other banking lobbyists to write the nation's laws governing financial activity. But just the opposite has occurred as the company's influence has only grown in direct proportion to the harm it has bestowed. As The New York Times reported last week:

"Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

"One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month -- over the objections of the Treasury Department -- was essentially Citigroup's, according to emails reviewed by the New York Times. ...

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Robert Scheer is editor in chief of the progressive Internet site Truthdig. He has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. He conducted the famous Playboy magazine interview in which Jimmy (more...)
 

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