Commentary from Jim Hightower

Congress: America needs more financial fraud

Wednesday, April 4, 2012   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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In this time of "The Great Hurt" – with widespread unemployment, middle-class incomes tumbling, and the price of gasoline skyrocketing – I think we can all agree on the first thing that Washington needs to do: deregulate Wall Street.

Yes, that Wall Street. The same priests of unmitigated arrogance that caused the crash that continues to rumble across our land. The same Wall Street we bailed out with trillions of public dollars. That Wall Street is now sulking and skulking around the U.S. Capitol, insisting that it is an economic victim, held back from its profiteering potential by government regulations to protect the public from finaglers and fraudsters. "Free Wall Street," is their cry!

Clucking with sympathy, Congress' tea-party Republicans have rushed to the side of these poor rich financiers, pledging to unshackle them from "burdensome" regulations. However, serving Wall Street is not all that popular, so the Repubs and their Democratic allies have committed their own fraud in order to pass a recent de-reg bill, deceptively titled the "J.O.B.S. Act" (even though it doesn't actually create any jobs), pushing it in the name of small businesses (even though they quietly defined "small" as a billion dollars a year in sales).

Alarmingly, the "onerous" regulations that they eliminate primarily are financial disclosure rules passed a decade ago to prevent another Enron scandal. The GOP House even tried to free financial hucksters from having to tell potential investors the names of the executives running the company and – get this – from providing a description of what the company does and it's financial condition!

The last thing our economy needs is an open invitation for a new crop of stock swindlers to defraud the public – but that's the first thing that Washington agreed to do. It's a disgrace.

"Senate Approves Bill to Aid Start-Ups," The New York Times, March 23, 2012.

"Bill to Aid Start-Ups Is Approved By Senate," The New York Times, March 23, 2012.

"Final Approval by House Sends Jobs Bill to President For Signature," The New York Times, March 28, 2012.

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