The Great American Stickup: How the Political Class Mugged America and Handed the Money Over to Wall St.
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Goodman: Robert Scheer, your last chapter, "Sucking Up to the Bankers: Crisis Handoff from Bush to Obama" -- has Obama done anything different about the economy than Bush, do you feel?
Scheer: No. Obama has been a disaster. And I say this as someone who was suckered into contributing to his campaign financially. You know, my wife maxed out in her contributions, pushing those buttons every time. I still get emails from the Obama campaign telling "We’re winning here, we’re winning there." But it’s been a disaster. Now, maybe, you know, if he could appoint Elizabeth Warren, you know, to the consumer agency, there will be a little bit of value in this deregulation—in this new regulation.
Goodman: What about that?
Scheer: Russ Feingold was absolutely right to vote against it. Hello?
Goodman: But what about Elizabeth Warren, seen as the frontrunner for this job, but seen as a—there’s a quiet campaign in the White House, or perhaps not so quiet, among people like Rahm Emanuel, who supposedly, rumor has it, are opposing her?
Scheer: Yeah, well, look, come on. You can’t look to the Democratic Party, you know, hacks, for leadership on this. First of all, most of these people are veterans of the Clinton administration. They’re the same people who destroyed Brooksley Born. Brooksley Born was one of the most competent lawyers in this country, dealing -- she represented banks. She understood more about these derivatives than anyone around, actually, when she was appointed to what was supposed to be a lesser agency, you know, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And she spotted this problem. You know, seventeen times in testimony before congressional committees, Brooksley Born sounded the alarm that there was going to be a housing meltdown, that this thing had gone wild, that we had enabled Wall Street graft. She knew the inside outside. It was people like Summers, who’s now in this administration, I think, who don’t want Elizabeth Warren—Timothy Geithner, and there are plenty of others. There are many Goldman Sachs veterans and other big Wall Street veterans in this administration, as well. And they destroyed Brooksley Born. And they’re threatened by Elizabeth Warren, because Elizabeth Warren represents consumers. She’s a brilliant legal mind, and just as Brooksley Born is. And Elizabeth Warren said, "Wait a minute. You know, what kind of, you know, government is this, when you’re caring about Wall Street and you’re ignoring the pain out there?"
And I have to stress this, Amy. This is not some abstract—you know, I studied economics in graduate school, and I could do some mathematical modeling and all that stuff. This is not a game. It’s not a political game. It’s not a mathematics game. They’re real human beings who invest their whole life putting shelter over their family, caring about their family. And when you go out in these communities—and I’ve done some of that—you know, it’s so depressing. You know, I mean, I talked to people in Riverside who cleaned office buildings, you know, in Long Beach and commuted to Riverside so their kids could live in a better neighborhood. And they bought this house, and they made the payments. They made the payments. They did everything they were supposed to do. And the neighborhood went into the toilet, and they lose everything. They lose everything. And that story is repeated millions of times in America.
And the guys who did it to us, they weren’t those vicious right-wingers. And, you know, it wasn’t all the people that we liberals like to attack. It was our friends. Let’s get that straight, you know? When I call this the Clinton bubble, you know, I mean it very seriously. It was our friends. It was people, you know, like the heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who claim to be liberal Democrats. But they were being rewarded with enormous bonuses. You know, enormous bonuses. They made out just as well as the people running Citigroup. These were not government agencies. These were actually traded on the stock market, but posing as government-supported agencies. And the fact of the matter is that the damage that was done to us was done by people who talk a very good game. You know, Robert Rubin contributed money to the Harlem dance group, you know? Jesse Jackson even supported the reversal of Glass-Steagall. There’s a whole chapter in my book, you know? The people who acted in a very bad way, in this book, were people who we would probably be more comfortable talking to, you know, over a drink somewhere than the others. So, you know, my book, you know, it’s called "How Reagan Democrats—Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street and Mugged Main Street." And the Clinton Democrats, who now control the Obama administration, are—you know, this is turning the henhouse over to the foxes. And I would say the record of Obama on this has been abysmal. He has been a frontman for Wall Street, and it is shocking.