President Obama delivered a fantastic speech last night. It’s tone alone will go a long way toward reassuring a nation mired in economic crisis. And amazingly, there were many moments of bipartisan applause, like when Obama tackled corporate greed: “I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.”
This was music to my ears, but as Robert Scheer astutely pointed out at The Nation, the problem Obama had in discussing regulation to fix our financial woes is that many of his top economic advisers, including Lawrence Summers, were responsible for gutting the regulatory system that helped cause this mess in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, Obama’s speech was strong and hopefully it will symbolize a fundamental change in thinking from his economic team. But I’m just glad we have someone like Senator Bernie Sanders to help Obama make good on his demagoguery.
The Independent Senator from Vermont says we need a new Wall Street. He wants to confront the culture of greed head on, get rid of the CEOs of these corrupt financial institutions, and establish a much stricter regulatory process. Sanders has been a vocal critic of TARP spending from the beginning, and last month he called for the congressional TARP Oversight Panel to expand its focus and dig into the causes of the financial crisis, using subpoena power to expose the roots. Sanders’ vigilence and frankness, coupled with Obama’s rhetoric last night, is what gives me hope.