President Obama should propose that the nation’s biggest banks be broken up and their size capped, and that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected.
It’s good policy, and it would smoke out Mitt Romney as being of, by, and for Wall Street — and not on the side of average Americans.
It would also remind America that five years ago Wall Street’s excesses almost ruined the economy. Bankers, hedge-fund managers, and private-equity traders speculated on the upside, then shorted on the downside — in a vast zero-sum game that resulted in the largest transfer of wealth from average Americans to financial elites ever witnessed in this nation’s history.
Most of us lost big — including over $7 trillion of home values, a $700-billion-dollar bailout of Wall Street, and continuing high unemployment.
But the top 1 percent have done just fine. In the first year of the recovery they reaped 93 percent of the gains. The latest data show them back with 20 to 25 percent of the nation’s total income — just where they were in 2007.
The stock market has about caught up to where it was before the crash. The pay and bonuses on the Street are once again sky-high. So are the pay and perks of top corporate executives. The Forbes list of richest Americans contains more billionaires than ever.
And the tax rates of the top 1 percent are lower than ever — courtesy of their armies of lobbyists.
Mitt Romney, private equity manager and financier — well within the top one-tenth of 1 percent, collecting more than $20 million a year yet paying 14 percent in taxes because of tax preferences for capital gains and for private-equity — is the avatar for all that’s happened.
Just like the rest of the Street, Romney used other peoples’ ...