Wed, 22 May 2013
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“Banks have failed to pay more than half of $5.7 billion owed to homeowners from over 30 settlements since 2008.”
Attorney General Eric Holder won’t lay a hand on the cabal of banks that are “too big to fail” and far too politically powerful to jail, but DC police seemed eager to use their tasers on homeowners and anti-foreclosure demonstrators at Holder’s Justice Department, this week. Five hundred protesters from organizations around the country, including Occupy Minnesota, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the Home Defenders League, and Occupy Our Homes gathered to demand that banks be held accountable for the massive frauds they’ve committed against homeowners and society at large. Several dozen protesters were arrested, including a number of elderly persons, but Eric Holder and his top lieutenants didn’t even bother to acknowledge their presence.
If the Obama administration has been consistent on any one issue, it is the untouchability of the biggest banks. Attorney General Holder has acted more as the bankers’ bail bondsman than the nation’s top law enforcement official. When confronted with two Scandals of the Century – the massive robo-signing bank fraud and the Libor interest rate fixing scheme – Holder moved to protect the banks. He used the powers of his office to block state criminal prosecutions in favor of financial settlements and fines. Holder, who is relentless in his determination to enforce the letter of the law on marijuana, claims he is helpless to bring criminal charges against banking corporations and their top executives, because it might cause an economic crisis. The real economic catastrophe that Holder and his boss, President Obama, fear is that Wall Street might withdraw its campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.
“He used the powers of his office to block state criminal prosecutions.”
Not only does the Attorney General refuse to consider putting bankers in jail, whatever the crime, he allows them to defy the terms of agreed upon financial settlements. According to the Washington Post, banks have failed to pay more than half of $5.7 billion owed to homeowners from over 30 settlements since 2008. These include robo-signing frauds, subprime mortgage entrapments, discrimination in lending to the disabled – a whole universe of criminality for which, in a just world, the offending banks would be dismantled and their top executives imprisoned. Instead, they are allowed to renege on payments to their victims with impunity.
As it has turned out, many of the banksters’ victims have received only a few thousand, or even just a few hundred dollars after years of struggle.
Even as his administration fails to live up to its Constitutional responsibilities to enforce the law, as it applies to Wall Street, Obama preached personal responsibility to the graduating class of Morehouse College, in Atlanta. The President spoke of the importance of “men who refuse to be afraid.” But he and his Attorney General are scared stiff of the power of the banks, to which they are beholden as servants. If there is no law that the banks cannot break with impunity, then this is not a nation of laws.
So, let’s stop pretending.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.