All too often those in government believe a slap on the corporate wrist is enough when a company commits a massive wrongdoing. Many believe a settlement now being pushed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner with the big banks and Wall Street firms that caused the mortgage crisis may result in just that – little more than a slap on the wrist of the corporate offenders. To this day, Wall Street bankers haven’t faced any serious punishment for the widespread fraud that crashed our country’s economy. When you consider that they were peddling bad loans, lying to investors, forging foreclosure documents – all of which deserves severe punishment – it’s difficult to understand why more harsh punishment hasn’t been handed down. Now these very same banks are making huge profits again, while homeowners continue to suffer.
Geithner now is asking state Attorneys General to agree to a sweetheart deal under which the offending banks would pay only $20 billion – a fraction of what they would owe if they were really prosecuted – and get immunity from investigation and prosecution. The criminal greed, wrongful conduct, and outright fraud by the large banks that caused this crisis shouldn’t be passed off with a slap on their corporate wrists. The proposed settlement would eliminate any leverage regulators have to pressure banks to “bail out” the homeowners they hurt so badly by their misconduct.
The reason this settlement is possible may be because it has been flying under the national radar screen. Very little about the settlement has been mentioned by the national media which in itself is “newsworthy.” I don’t believe Sec. Geithner and the Obama Administration should let Wall Street have a “get-out-of-jail free card.”
What these huge corporations did was wrong and they should be punished severely. It’s estimated that by pushing bad loans and peddling risky mortgage-backed securities as safe investments, these banks cost the world economy over 7 trillion dollars. Their widespread fraud and corruption also cost millions of hardworking Americans their jobs and their homes. Instead of making the wrongdoers pay a real price for their actions, they are being protected by our government. Wall Street was given nearly $2 trillion in loans for the banks to get back on their feet. That came as ordinary folks were still struggling to make ends meet, which just doesn’t seem right in a country like America. The victims of the corporate wrongdoings should be at the top of the list for governmental assistance, but that hasn’t been the case.
There are a number of state Attorneys General who are standing up to Sec. Geithner and Wall Street, and are refusing to settle with the banks until a full and real investigation exposes the role these banks and their executives played in the crash of our housing market and economy. For example, Eric Schneiderman and Beau Biden, the Attorneys General of New York and Delaware, respectively, are holding strong despite enormous pressure from the Administration to accept the settlement. I am told that General Schneiderman’s insistence that these crimes be investigated and prosecuted resulted in his being kicked off the settlement committee. Owning a home is part of the American Dream, and justice for homeowners is part of the American Dream movement. If you agree that the wrongdoers should be prosecuted and their victims protected, let your state Attorneys General know how you feel.
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