After the Denver debate last week, the Obama campaign launched a clever ad capitalizing on Mitt Romney’s admission that he would eliminate funding for PBS and Big Bird. President Romney would fight “Sesame Street” while protecting Wall Street, the Obama team made clear.
But what’s President Obama’s record on prosecuting the bankers and executives who led us into the 2008 financial crisis? David Dayen at Firedoglake points out that the Wall Street criminals highlighted in the smear on Romney—Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski—were prosecuted and convicted by George W. Bush’s Justice Department or turned in and pleaded guilty before Obama took office, which means that while the Obama administration might do one better than Romney by keeping Big Bird on the payroll, it hasn’t been the adversaries of Wall Street that its latest ad would have the public believe.
So the Obama campaign could not fill a list of three Wall Street criminals that the Obama Justice Department actually sent to jail. Heck, they couldn’t fill a list of one!
This is despite Eric Holder telling students at Columbia University in February of this year that his Justice Department’s record of success on fighting financial fraud crimes “has been nothing less than historic.” But not historic enough that his boss could point to, well, one Wall Street criminal behind bars as a result of DoJ’s actions.
That’s painfully telling. Nobody from Bank of America or Wells Fargo or Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase or Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns or Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch or even Countrywide or Ameriquest was available to stand in as a “glutton of greed” in this advertisement. Literally no major figure responsible for the financial crisis has gone to jail. So the campaign has to use two CEOs from a decade-old accounting scandal, and a garden-variety Ponzi schemer.