Monday, October 12, 2009

On the government's owners

On the government's owners - Glenn Greenwald - Salon

The most revealing political quote of the last year came, in my view, from the second-highest ranking Democratic Senator, Dick Durbin, who told a local radio station in April: "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place." The best Congressional floor speech of the last year on the financial crisis was this extraordinarily piercing five-minute revelation from Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio on the Wall Street bailout and how the Congress is subservient to their dictates. And the single most insightful article on the financial crisis was written by former IMF Chief Economist and current MIT Professor Simon Johnson in the May, 2009 issue of The Atlantic, when he argued that "the finance industry has effectively captured our government" and detailed how the U.S. has become very similar to failed emerging-market nations in both its political and economic culture.

All of that came together last night on Bill Moyers' Journal program, as Johnson and Kaptur together discussed the stranglehold which the financial industry exerts over the federal government and how that has produced a jobless recovery in which the only apparent beneficiaries are the bankers and other financial elites who caused the financial crisis in the first place. The discussion began with reference to this Associated Press article from last week, which examined Timothy Geithner's calenders, obtained through a FOIA request. Those documents show that Geithner spends an amazing amount of time on the telephone with the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Citibank and JP Morgan: "Goldman, Citi and JPMorgan can get Geithner on the phone several times a day if necessary, giving them an unmatched opportunity to influence policy." Other than the President, virtually everyone else -- including leading members of Congress -- are forced to leave messages. Kaptur and Johnson begin by discussing what that signifies in terms of the ongoing financial crisis and how government works.

I'll excerpt a few representative passages, but the entire segment is very worth watching

(watch that Bill Moyers Journal program or continue reading greenwald's article & exerpts...)


  1. I think those banks need to be broken up. Geitner was a bad choice indeed.

  2. What’s Wrong with a Phone Call? - Geithner talked to these Wall Street executives more than the key people in Congress — Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd — that he needs to pass his regulatory reform plan.