In December 2012, federal prosecutors failed to bring true justice to HSBC for massive, criminal money laundering because the giant UK bank was too big. An indictment, they thought, would ravage the financial sector.
In January 2013, with a full month to reflect about the non-prosecution of HSBC, Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged the reason behind the decision: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”
Since then, numerous bank regulators and Obama administration officials have attempted to refute their role in or even the accuracy of Holder’s assertion. In testimony and speeches, officials from the Federal Reserve, FDIC, Comptroller of the Currency, and Treasury contradicted Holder’s claim that government deemed some banks were just too big to jail. Those denials may be explored when Justice Department official James M. Cole testifies before a House financial services subcommittee May 22.
Flickr photo by D H Wright
Taken literally, the term “lame duck” refers to an injured duck that is unable to keep up with its flock.
On Tuesday, November 13, the month-long “lame duck” session of the 112th Congress will begin – and we’ll get a hint of whether the next session will be as plagued as the current session with partisan obstructionism.
If you have members of Congress who were voted out on Election Day or are retiring, the next few weeks is their last chance to make their mark. These lawmakers are the lame ducks.
In Congress, lame ducks will be indeed be left to fend for themselves as their “flock” of reelected peers prepares to join the newly elected (or “freshman”) members in January, when the 113th Congress is sworn in.
Lame duck lawmakers are notoriously unpredictable. They no longer need to worry about raising money for reelection, so they are more free to stand up to corporate lobbyists and other moneyed interests.
However, because they’re not seeking reelection, they’re also less accountable to their constituents. Worse, they’re vulnerable to offers of cushy jobs at lobbying firms, where former lawmakers all-too-often receive six-figure salaries in exchange for doing Corporate America’s bidding and perpetuate Washington’s “revolving door” problem.
The upcoming lame duck session (scheduled to last from November 13 until December 14) is fraught with opportunities and threats:
Former D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown (left) and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (far right). Brown resigned last week after pleading guilty to bank fraud and misusing campaign money.
The U.S. Attorney has taken an active role in our local government. So has the FBI, the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, and the D.C. Attorney General. Now it’s time for fellow residents to take action, and here’s a great way to do it: Sign the petition for Initiative 70, which will end the destructive pay-to-play culture at the Wilson Building (D.C.’s City Hall).
I’ve helped gather signatures a couple of times to get Initiative 70 on November’s ballot. Last weekend, I was hitting up friends and neighbors. One neighbor cut me off after my first sentence and grabbed the paper out of my hand. “No need to say more,” he said. “I’ll sign.” Still another signed, saying that he supported the measure. He then added that the massive effort being undertaken to get the measure before the voters shouldn’t be necessary. “We elect people to make hard decisions,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to do this.”
He’s absolutely right. But this is Washington, D.C. You might have heard that the Council has had a few problems lately.