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Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Wells Fargo and the revolving door.



  Daley gestures while talking to Barack Obama as they walk toward a white wall.

Barack Obama and Bill Daley outside the White House in 2011.

Jewel Samad / AFP via Getty Images

Barack Obama joined during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. One of the reasons for the crisis was that large banks had bought and sold mortgage-related securities that were irresponsible and even fraudulently issued, and when the housing market collapsed they found themselves owed sums they had never planned to pay. So they went out of business or had to be rescued by the federal government.

While Obama publicly criticized bank executives and helped pass the Dodd-Frank Act, which introduced tighter regulations for the financial sector, the Justice Department was led by his appointee only accused a bank manager of the companies who deliberately traded fake securities, scamming excluded homeowners during the housing collapse, lied to the public about internal financial conditions and the like. The prosecutor who ran the early criminal division of the DOJ said that part of what he considered when making that decision was the impact that prosecutors could have on the "markets" – an argument or admission that some financial corporations had been allowed to become so large that laws governing their behavior cannot be enforced.

One of the leading banks spared from the reach of that criminal justice system was Wells Fargo. The company paid $ 2 billion to settle claims that before the housing crash deliberately issued mortgages that the income information had been falsified to then sell these mortgages to outside investors, but no one was charged criminally in the case. Over the past three years, the bank has been in the news all the time for subsequent scams, including systematically charging millions of customers' fees for new accounts it opened in their name without permission.

On Thursday, Wells Fargo announced it has hired Obama Chief of Staff William Daley as its "public affairs deputy," a job in which he will oversee the bank's lobbying activities. So:

1. Scams.
2. Avoid criminal charges of fraud.
3. More scams.
4. Hire one of the people from point 2 to help you deal with the fallout from point 3.

Under the circumstances, it would require a great deal of optimism to imagine that # 5 in the sequence was "no more scams."

Elizabeth Warren has made ending this type of cycle a priority of her campaign. Her anti-corruption and public integrity laws would prohibit or drastically restrict "revolving door" lobbying payments that Daley takes. (The act that was written would ban cabinet secretaries for life from lobbying, but for what it's worth, not cabinet-level counsel as the chief of staff.) She would restore authority to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency she created, which is one of the groups that discovered Wells Fargo which scammed its customers. (During the Trump administration, the CFPB implements "enforcement actions" at less than half the previous rate.) And she has proposed legislation that would make it easier to prosecute executives if companies steal from customers or lie to the public.

Of course, the institutional Democratic Party – the party that apparently thinks the government should regulate business – is currently hitting Warren with a major setback for proposing such things. Pete Buttigieg (who this summer received campaign contributions from "at least 15 bank executives from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Bank of America," according to CNBC) has re-branded himself as the "unit candidate" and said that Warren's stance on Corporate abuse constitutes a call for "infinite partisan struggle" that puts "struggle" on "outcome." Beto & # 39; Rourke, before dropping out, said that "sometimes I think Senator Warren is more focused on being punitive and throwing part of the country against the other instead of lifting people up and making sure this Joe Biden attacked Warren this week at a fundraising event he held in the office of a DC company with lobbying clients including Mastercard and Purdue Pharma, Wall Street executive and Obama adviser Steven Rattner wrote in a New York Times call Monday Wear's attack on "America's world champions, such as banks and tech giants," would trigger an economic disaster.

Really, who has not been recognized as an American in, let's say, Yemen, by a group of kids who enthusiastically begin a "Wells Fargo" song to honor America's beloved world champions?

It is true that ordinary, non-ich people who believe Wear's plan to terminate private health insurance is the most important way she is "too extreme." But Democratic voters may find that the people who fund her rivals seem another "too extreme" thing to suggest that the public is not best served by a system where Obama's chief of staff works for Wells Fargo, his press secretary works for McDonald's, his first campaign manager jobs for Uber and Mark Zuckerberg, his second campaign manager jobs for the American Petroleum Institute and the United Arab Emirates, and he himself works for a financial services company with major investments in health care. Whose "unity" and whose "results" are we really talking about here?

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