It would be bad enough if our leaders were letting the high-finance big shots off the hook for their misdeeds because the authorities were just too incompetent to catch them.
But what’s worse is that those in power don’t want to hold the high rollers accountable and run the other way when any opportunity presents itself to shine a light on how we got here.
The most recent examples are the shenanigans of Rep. Darrell Issa, head of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Issa’s committee could play a crucial role in highlighting the abuse and fraud that led to the crisis if he chose, similar to the one played by Ferdinand Pecora’s hard-hitting investigation into the financial corruption and speculation that led to the Great Depression.
But Issa, a Republican, has other agendas in mind – like embarrassing the Democrats and protecting Republican interests in winning more donations from Wall Street. His priorities have been in lock-step with the Republican attack on government regulation of corporations, rather than figuring out how government might do a better job of responding to corporate abuse.
This week he hastily canceled an inquiry into the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission after emails surfaced that would have severely embarrassed Republicans on that bipartisan commission that investigated the causes of the financial collapse.
In response to Issa’s investigation, the Democrats on the commission issued another report, accusing the Republicans of rigging their conclusions to support their political goals – weakening the Dodd-Frank financial reform.
The commission itself had long ago collapsed along partisan lines, with Democrats issuing a report that reached bland conclusions – it was everybody’s fault, while three of the committee’s Republicans were reluctant to blame anybody except to the extent that they agreed with the bankers – it was the fault of an unforeseeable global housing collapse.
The fourth Republican, meanwhile, fixed the blame on the right’s favorite bogeymen – poor people, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
But the FCIC’s Democrats have now unearthed an email sent by that fourth Republican, Peter Wallison, fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute think tank, to another FCIC Republican, Douglas Holz-Eakins, the day after Republicans took the majority in the House of Representatives last year. In the Nov. 3 email, Wallison wrote that it is "very important" that the separate GOP statements "not undermine the ability of the new House GOP to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank."
Issa has a chance to redeem himself by joining the senior Democrat on the oversight panel, Elijah Cummings in scrutinizing the shameful foreclosures of members of the nation’s military.
I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen.
While Issa has shown some willingness to tackle an investigation of the Obama administration’s failed foreclosure relief program, he’s shown no interest in the robo-signing scandal or aspects of the housing crisis that might embarrass the big banks.