Stop the Socialism for the Big Banks

>I don’t envy President Obama. While I can take issue with some of his strategies – I believe we should get out of Afghanistan, for example, and he should stop compromising away real health care reform – I can appreciate just how monumental the task of turning this country around is.

Reforming health care? It’s only been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first campaigned in 1912 for it. As Obama told Congress on September 9th of this year, “I may not be the first president to tackle health care reform, but I intend to be the last.” A bold statement, to be sure, something Mr. Obama is very good at. But accomplishing that goal, even with majorities in both houses – as we are seeing – is something else altogether.

Add to that the job of recovering from the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, and you’ve already got a Herculean task. And we haven’t even mentioned all the other sticky issues, like averting a climate crisis, nuclear proliferation, environmental challenges, etc.

One could say that dealing with health care reform just now might have been taking on too much, although it is urgently needed and with Democratic majorities, it seemed like a good time to take it on. But averting financial disaster was not a voluntary task, it was thrust upon the new president. Unfortunately, out of ignorance on the subject, or a blind faith in those in the top echelons of the financial industry, or for whatever reason, Obama chose to trust the wrong team to help him. Now he must recognize his error, and find a new team, and a new strategy. The country’s long term financial health, and even our democracy, depend on it.

In a October 9th interview on PBS’s Bill Moyers Journal with Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, she said, “What they’re doing is they’re taking their mistakes and they’re dumping them on the taxpayer… It’s all at risk because of their behavior. We aren’t reigning them in. The laws of Congress passed last year in terms of housing, were hollow… It’s socialism for the big banks.”

Referring to the president, she said, “I think some of the people that he trusted haven’t delivered. I urge him to get new [financial] generals. It’s time.”

I have to agree, and I’m very sorry Obama couldn’t see from the start that you can’t fix a broken system by hiring the people who broke it, and who are invested in bailing it out. But now that it’s completely obvious, it is time to get a new team in there. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes, Mr. President, otherwise you’ll be just like the failed president before you.

Unfortunately, the opportunity inherent in the original crisis may have already slipped away. It may, in fact, be a nearly impossible task, but we’ve got to try. The financial sector needs fundamental reform, and it needs it now.

James Israel
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