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Barack Obama, too little and Too late?

By       Message Dave Lefcourt     Permalink
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Within two days of Scott Brown's special election victory in Massachusetts, the White House dragged Paul Volcker out of the closet, (placing him in photo op range near the president) and suddenly embraces the ex Fed chief (whose ideas of pushing for serious regulation of Wall Street excesses were kept in deep background) are now pushed front and center.

With health care "reform" ensnarled with Brown's win and Barack Obama realizing (finally?) the publics' in no nonsense mood, has now decided to take on the "banksters." The "Too big to fail" behemoths who, having returned their bailout money (thank you very much!) have resumed their high stakes "gambling." They're back to awarding the six figure bonuses to their "high fliers" comparable to the ones they gave out in 2007, before the financial meltdown which they created.

It's "high dungeon" over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner is on board, traveling the nightly news circuit calling for regulation and limits on the financial industry. This from the guy who purportedly has had daily conversations with Lloyd Blankfein, the Chairman of Goldman Sachs, the highest flier on Wall Street and the chief recipient (13 billion) of AIG's bailout "bonanza" for the derivatives (credit default swaps) the latter insured but became "toxic assets" with the bursting of the sub prime mortgage market.

Could it be "politics" that causes the White House to realize they had better listen to the people? Are they now realizing that next November the Democratic majorities in Congress could be in serious jeopardy of losing many seats, possibly even their majorities in both chambers?

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The reality seen from this quarter is it may be too little, too late.

Obama let health care "reform" unravel and get ensnarled by lack of early leadership and no conviction as to what constitutes real reform of health care. It became all too apparent any reform measure would do as long as it could be called "reform." The public wasn't buying it and showed its deep displeasure with Scott Brown taking Ted Kennedy's old seat.

Meanwhile, Wall Street has been "snickering" in the background, knowing it received a pass from being held to account for the excesses it precipitated (perpetrated?) in helping to cause the "Great Recession." They may be a dirty word on "Main Street" but they know they have powerful allies in both parties and both houses of Congress who will see to it that whatever "regulations" may be pushed by the White House will be regulation at the edges, slaps on the wrist instead of being taken to the woodshed and brought to heel.

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So instead of FDR type boldness in leadership and taking on the financial industry with "Glass- Steagell" type regulatory legislation that separated the commercial banks from the investment institutions, Obama has basically continued the Bush administrations policies of bailouts and rescue of the "too big to fail financial institutions. Regulation of Wall Street has hardly been at the top of the White Houses agenda; that is until a couple of days after "black Tuesday" and the advent of Scott Brown.

Once the public sees the president as sloganeer of "change you can believe in", a hollow reed rather than the expected formidable champion of the people, it may be hard to put this "Humpty Dumpty" back together again.

A year in office is a relatively short period of time. But a president, any president, has just so much capital in which he can spend. The glory days of the "coming of Barack Obama" seem so long ago. Chapter one, the first year is over; the occupant having squandered his mandate. Chapter two has started off rather shakily. One is hard pressed to see how this tilting ship can be righted.
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