A spring > showed the public evenly divided on giving government new power to regulate finance, unless the question was specifically framed as controlling "Wall Street banks."
And for well over a year, that's exactly the offensive the White House has continued to employ. Last summer President Obama referred to Wall Street as "the folks who created this mess." Earlier this year he pushed to rein in "irresponsible Wall Street millionaires."
"What Wall Street Reform Means to You" (2010)
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The latest salvo is a slickly produced video narrated by Hollywood actor and former Obama staffer Kal Penn, which, in a mere 3:15, explains without hesitation how "careless risk taking by the big banks [brought about] the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression." Referred to as "gamblers playing with other people's money," we're told bankers "bet big and lost big," thus "squeezing the middle class" and leaving millions unemployed and without credit.
You'd expect that sort of propaganda from a hellion web site, not the leader of the free world.
As has been widely examined and even sheepishly acknowledged by the president's own minions, the financial collapse was hardly the product of risk taking in an unbridled marketplace. The very institutions the White House blames were already regulated by no less than a half-dozen different government fiefdoms and literally tens of thousands of statutes. "Reforms"will add 13 new regulatory agencies, including an "Office of Minority and Woman Inclusion."
So did the lawmakers who joined him on stage at the bill signing, including co-authors Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), under whose direct regulatory oversight the economy collapsed.
Isn't it funny how they didn't make the video? Nor did the Community Reinvestment Act, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or ultra-low interest rates from Alan Greenspan's Federal Reserve.
Neither did Freddie or Fannie, whose ongoing, $1 trillion bailout not only didn't make the video, but didn't even make the bill.
(Overdraft fees, however, they've "thankfully" covered).
The video ends with the promise that "you can rest a little easier knowing that your home, your family and your future will be protected from the irresponsibility of others" -- that is, protected from the financier's greed. No nuance there.
"A Corner in Wheat" (1909)
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Obama's video is a modern day incarnation of another anti-Wall Street propaganda piece, D.W. Griffith's 1909 muckraking film, "A Corner in Wheat," which portrays commodity speculators as destructive exploiters of consumers and farmers. In it, the greedy, cigar-smoking market operator's trading in wheat prompts bread lines, mass unemployment, rioting and financial ruin.
Although the films are separated by 101 years, the underlying philosophy hasn't changed: Nefarious, unproductive speculators destroy the lives of the honest working man. The president has simply added music and cute animation.
In a recent poll, 55% of those surveyed believed the president was "a socialist." A Bloomberg survey earlier this year indicated 77% of investors believed Obama was "anti-business." The White House's latest slanderous misrepresentation of business only confirms why.
The SEC fined Goldman Sachs $550 million for marketing materials that contained "incomplete information." Yet by any standard, the president's revisionist explanation of financial collapse is far more dishonest.
Blaming greedy Wall Street might play well on the silver screen, but bears no connection to the considerable government intervention that actually precipitated the crisis.