You: Wall Street’s human shield


During a similar period of prolonged, public face-palming over Washington idiocy, somebody asked: Where’s Tom Lehrer when you really need him? Well at 86, the singer-satirist is no longer performing. Thankfully, we have Matt Taibbi, back at Rolling Stone.

Taibbi gives the Citigroup provision in the “Cromnibus” budget bill a bit of the “vampire squid” treatment. Senator Elizabeth Warren made headlines on Friday night when the Massachusetts Democrat read aloud the title of the Dodd-Frank rule the Citigroup-sponsored provision aimed to repeal: “PROHIBITION AGAINST FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BAILOUTS OF SWAPS ENTITIES.” And then proceeded to vivisect it in her speech on the Senate floor, warning that passage means more corporate welfare in the form of taxpayer-funded bailouts. It is a provision neither Republicans nor Democrats would own up to inserting, neither would defend, yet would not stand up in numbers to remove lest it precipitate a government shutdown. Neither will the White House veto it.

Taibbi writes (emphasis mine):

There’s no logical argument against the provision. The banks only want it because they want to use your bank accounts as a human shield to protect their dangerous gambling activities.

Or maybe us as human sacrifices. The vote to pass the Continuing Resolution without stripping the Citigroup provision proved Warren’s point that the original Dodd-Frank bill properly should have broken Citigroup into pieces:

Think about this kind of power. A financial institution has become so big and so powerful that it can hold the entire country hostage. That alone is a reason enough for us break them up. Enough is enough.

Warren reinforced my point as well: What vestigial meaning has the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers when it is all the same power?

Taibbi gets it too, albeit more colorfully:

Conservatives for welfare, and liberals for big business. It doesn’t make sense unless we’re not really dealing with any divided collection of conservatives or liberals, and are instead talking about one nebulous mass of influence, money and interests. I think of it as a single furiously-money-collecting/favor-churning oligarchical Beltway party, a thing that former Senate staffer and author Jeff Connaughton calls “The Blob.”

INDESCRIBABLE… INDESTRUCTIBLE! NOTHING CAN STOP IT! At least, that’s what Big Money would have us believe.

Responding to Warren’s third speech in a week criticizing financial deregulation, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested Warren and other critics of the measure were not mature enough to run Washington. “Don’t follow her lead,” Graham warned the Senate. “She’s the problem.”


Washington critics may be a dime a dozen, but for Villagers cozy with the money brokers, Warren is the most irritating kind. Everyone knows she’s right.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Corruption, National, News


  1. Speaking of Citigroup, a couple of weeks back I pointed out that they were in fact the majority owners of the owners of the mysterious company that sought to become the owners of Tryon NC’s water system during 2010 – 2012.

    To comply with the new Volcker Rule, which requires banks to shed some of their speculative investments, Citigroup sold off their controlling interest in Metalmark Capital, which in turn owns private water company Ni America. Metalmark’s new owner, “Lexington Partners”, is now in the process of selling off Ni America. Who will wind up owning this feisty little resource acquisition front man? We may never know – it’s probable that the new owners won’t want to advertise themselves any more than Citigroup did when Tryon town officials asked Ni America “Who owns you?”

    Well, since this Citigroup connection came out, I refined my search on Metalmark, and found that, at the time they were trying to acquire Tryon’s water at least, they were also heavily invested in fracking. This webpage, which appears to be dated around 2009-2010, shows that they held interest in no less than 10 companies involved in natural gas extraction. Some are now out of business, some have merged, some have no doubt been sold off by Metalmark.

    Is it just a coincidence that a company that was trying really hard to get a foothold on WNC water distribution was also invested in fracking, a water-intensive energy extraction industry?