Is this really the best our government can do? I hope not. This settlement might or might not be the end of the attempt to rectify the financial crisis, but as things stand, we have a settlement in which the banks commit to follow the law and pay out some pocket change. The settlement doesn’t fix the housing market. It doesn’t create accountability for the financial crisis. It doesn’t even create incentives against future wrong-doing. But it provides the Obama Administration (and those attorney generals who just jumped in for the settlement at the last minute) with a fig leaf of political cover. It galls me is that the Obama Administration is going to trumpet this settlement as evidence that it is serious about prosecuting the crimes behind the financial crisis and helping homeowners. It was heartening to hear Obama talk about protecting the middle class in his State of the Union address. It was the right message, but the President is simply not a credible messenger. If Obama wants to run as the champion of Main Street against Romney, the Captain of Wall Street, he’s going to need to do something a lot more credible than this settlement.
The score: Banks 1, Public 0.
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