The big difference is that Sgt Bobby Bales, as he is fondly being remembered by people who probably didn't know him all that well, is also being cast in the American media as a sympathetic victim who just snapped after one deployment too many. Legend already has it that he joined up out of patriotism, post 9/11, to serve his country and fight the terrorists. Only... not so fast. It turns out that Bales may have joined the Army simply to escape accusations of fraud stemming from his stint as an investment broker. He'd been ordered to pay actual and punitive damages totalling more than $1 million to a retiree he had cheated out of his life savings. The Washington Post has the story.
But, whatever. Our duly elected president and Congress are set to legalize fraud anyway. The guilty shall be absolved. After Obama's in-house lobby of CEOs known as the Council on Jobs & Competitiveness told him they wanted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act dismantled, he was only too happy to comply. That was the law enacted during the Bush Administration in the wake of the Enron scandal; it made it illegal for corporations to defraud their investors, and forced potential cheaters to make honest disclosures about risk.
Now, the oligarchs have convinced their apparatchik in president's clothing that honesty is both a job-killer and a second term killer. It's not enough that they, like the war criminals, have walked free from past felonies. They won't be satisfied until they get permission to commit even more unpunishable crimes.
Hilariously, the weasels of the political class have named this scam of a bill the JOBs Act -- standing for "Jumpstart Our Small Business Start-Ups." It passed in the House almost unanimously, giving lie to the narrative that bipartisanship is dead. Democrats and Republicans love to pretend-fight over contrived issues like birth control, the better to sneak their Wall Street-enabling agenda past the public. Democratic apologists are already making the excuse that their side was hoodwinked into voting for it, seeing how the name would fool anybody, plus they probably didn't have time to actually read it. What a joke. If they didn't have time to read it, it was because they were too busy fund-raising from the bill's actual mega-rich authors.
The Senate is expected to pass the measure this week with the usual fast-track speed reserved for bills that screw the 99%. There is some surface pushback, but since Harry Reid made sure a super-majority will be needed to defeat it, some Democrats will be able to save face and brag how they voted against it and still get what they really want.
Former N.Y.Gov Eliot Spitzer, who once prosecuted the fraudsters now hoping to be exempt from culpability, has a scathing smackdown of this latest political scandal in Slate:
Once again, the Puppets on Capitol Hill are about to slam the Muppets on Main Street. The country still hasn’t recovered from the Wall Street-induced financial cataclysm of 2008, yet Congress is preparing to enact the Orwellian ”JOBS Act”—a bill that should in fact be called the “Return Fraud to Wall Street in One Easy Step Act.” The bill will undo some of the most important reforms placed on Wall Street in a generation.Even the staid New York Times is calling the proposed legislative chicanery "Orwellian" in its scope. From an editorial titled You Scratch My Back:
With their eye on campaign cash, President Obama and lawmakers from both parties have decided they can all get more from corporate constituents if they cooperate to enact legislation that big donors want.....Former financial regulator William Black calls the JOBS bill the most cynical thing to come out of Washington in living memory:
Its proponents — stock exchanges, venture capital groups, biotech start-ups, investment banks — say that the easier it is for companies to raise money, the more they will grow and hire workers. Its opponents — the current and former chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the association of state securities regulators, AARP, the Consumer Federation of America, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. labor federation and unions, several big pension funds and many prominent securities experts — have presented ample evidence to show that deregulation raises the cost of capital by harming investors and impairing markets, making it harder for legitimate companies to thrive.
John Coates of Harvard Law School recently told a Senate banking subcommittee that the proposals in the JOBS Act “could not only generate front-page scandals, but reduce the very thing they are being promoted to increase: job growth.” Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and other supporters, notably Senator Charles Schumer of New York, have responded to the warnings by fast-tracking the bill for passage. Over the past week, Senate Democratic leaders scrapped plans for introducing a Senate version that presumably would have restored some of the protections gutted in the House bill. Instead, they chose to embrace the House version.
The JOBS Act is something only a financial scavenger could love. It will create a fraud-friendly and fraud-enhancing environment. It will add to the unprecedented level of financial fraud by our most elite CEOs that has devastated the U.S. and European economies and cost over 20 million people their jobs.... Financial fraud is a prime jobs killer.The only "cops on the beat" in evidence these days are the paramilitary thugs who beat up Occupy protesters, stop and frisk minorities on suspicion of being minorities, and spy upon Muslims. Fraud is being openly celebrated as a virtue and peaceful demonstration is being vilified as a crime. The political miscreants are no longer even trying to pretend they work for the people who voted for them. Mendacity must get so exhausting after awhile.
Powerful regulatory regimes -- strong accounting rules, strict corporate governance, tough securities laws, and vigorous civil and criminal enforcement of the regulations and laws is the greatest infrastructure for strong economic growth that a nation can provide. For decades, the U.S. had an enormous competitive advantage over other nations in raising funds through securities because investors placed great trust in issuers that were subject to effective regulation. U.S. equities traded at a substantial premium compared to securities issued in other nations (which means that companies could raise capital much more effectively and inexpensively). Regulators serve as the "cops on the beat" that prevent a Gresham's Dynamic in which "bad ethics drives good ethics out of the markets."
Do you really think Obama and his Justice Department are going to crack down on the psychopathic NYPD? Think again. The president just had Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg to lunch, ostensibly to offer him a job in his second term. The president rakes in millions of dollars on any given day while canoodling with the obscenely wealthy and satisfying their every craven whim. His grand plan to shred Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is still very much on the table, despite his shallow populist rhetoric. Even serial Obama apologist Jonathan Chait has had enough of defending him. Read about the first (but not last) attempt at the Grand Bargain/Big Sellout here.
Electoral politics no longer has any meaning for regular people. The presidential horserace is a product of the mainstream stenographic media and SuperPacs -- a shallow sporting event to which we are invited to take sides and pretend our vote matters. Rombamarama will be a contest between two guys vying to see who can raise the most money and who can do the most to please the plutocrats. That is it.
The fact that Occupy is alive and well and growing every day is testament to the fact that the people are just not buying this crap any more.
It's time for a JOBS Act, all right. We need to Just Overcome B.S. And get ready for May Day.
**Update: Harry Reid has yanked the bill after amendments more protective of investors and the import-export bank failed, and the final cloture vote looked set to fail as well. You can read further details from Dave Dayen via Firedoglake. I think a little burst of public sunshine helped them see things from a reasonable point of view. Meanwhile, lobbyists will continue to open their checkbooks in hopes of better days for the professional fraud class.