You: Wall Street’s human shieldBy
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.)