Liberals may be outraged but Frank Rich is right on Obama backing down to the banks and letting them do whatever they want to do
Since Obama has neither aggressively pursued the crashâ€™s con men nor compellingly explained how they gamed the system, he sometimes looks as if heâ€™s fronting for the industry even if heâ€™s not. Voters are not only failing to give the White House credit for its economic successes but finding it guilty of transgressions it didnâ€™t commit. The opposition is more than happy to pump up that confusion. When Mitch McConnell appeared on ABCâ€™s â€œThis Weekâ€ last month, he typically railed against the â€œextremeâ€ government of â€œthe last year and a half,â€ citing its takeover of banks as his first example. That this was utter fiction â€” the takeover took place two years ago, before Obama was president, withMcConnell voting for it â€” went unchallenged by his questioner, Christiane Amanpour, and probably by many viewers inured to this big lie.
The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. Itâ€™s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we â€œlure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chaseâ€ for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life â€” from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support.