Last time it was Charles Keating (photo below) who took the rap for the gang of thieves behind the Savings & Loan collapse. Other names were mentioned in passing, of course – some of them quite illustrious. But the really powerful people involved never went to trial. Some families are above the law.
Keating, the Cincinnati billionaire who was known for his “holy war” against pornography and abortion before he became a famous swindler, struck a deal with the authorities. He was given a new trial and let out of prison after serving less than half his sentence. As part of the deal, the government dismissed fraud charges against Keating’s son. I don’t know what became of Keating after he got out of prison, but I bet he’s living in style surrounded by a bunch of other bigwigs. That’s the way things work at this level of white-collar crime: someone agrees to take the rap and is assured of a soft place to fall. Meanwhile the real Mr. Big goes on his merry way, untouched by the long arm of the law.
It’s deja vu all over again. This morning, I saw an Associated Press report that the FBI “is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration.” Here’s an excerpt from the AP report:
Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group Inc. Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also is under investigation. The inquiries will focus on the financial institutions and the individuals that ran them, the senior law enforcement official said…. Officials said the new inquiries bring to 26 the number of corporate lenders under investigation over the past year.
That tells me a bunch of crooks already made off with millions – maybe billions – and our tax money was plundered to save the companies they looted. I am sure that some day someone – maybe more than one – will be tried and go to prison for fraud in connection with all this. But you can bet it won’t be the people who really pulled off the heist. What’s even more alarming is that the Bush-Paulson-Bernanke junta (photo below) have the colossal nerve to try and bully Congress into giving them a blank check for seven hundred billion dolars – no questions asked – to shore up America’s teetering financial system. That’s right – no questions asked. A paragraph in the draft legislation would bar any review – and any prosecutions – as a result of the way the trio disburse the loot to their pals. Writing for The Huffington Post, John Atlas and Peter Dreier put it more politely:
The Bush bail-out is a corporate give-away, with no quid-pro-quos requiring companies to act responsibly in the future, limit outrageous executive compensation, or help ordinary homeowners to keep their homes. For example, Goldman Sachs recently paid out $16.5 billion in year-end bonuses to its employees. That worked out to over $620,000 per employee. The Bush plan will give the administration a $700 billion check with no strings attached, which they’ll hand over to the Wall Street firms that got us into this mess.
Senators Chris Dodd and Barney Frank are leading the resistance against this rip-off. And every American should rally to their support. Anyone with half a brain can figure out that this is the Bush gang’s last grab for the gold before he rides off into the sunset. They looted the country’s coffers of billions under cover of a bloody and ruinous war in Iraq. Now, they’re plundering more billions by pretending to “fix” a financial mess that they and their confederates in Congress created.
And guess what? This might not be the end of the Bush gang’s rule. America could have John McCain as president next. McCain who intervened with regulators to help Keating! McCain, who helped dismantle regulations that could have staved off the financial collapse!
McCain has been an unabashed deregulator throughout his 26-year Senate career. Despite his professed change of heart and his promises to “clean up Wall Street,” a McCain presidency would be “Bush on steroids,” as one commentator said on TV recently. If the American people elect John McCain, they will once again be putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.