When President Obama stood before Congress and the American People three months ago and promised to hold those behind the housing crisis ‘accountable’, I was hopeful.
In the days that followed, his new field general Eric Schneiderman was unveiled and almost immediately action was taken.
When Schneiderman issued subpoenas, just days after the President appointed him to run his new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, I thought that perhaps, FINALLY, a corner had been turned.
But it’s becoming clear to me now that the train that is the RMBS Working Group hasn’t left the station, and depending on who you believe, there may not even me a station built yet!
After those few weeks of full-court press by Schneiderman, there hadn’t been a peep about the status of the Working Group’s investigation. Yes it may have only been three months, yet I fear that the bold vision you and I were sold might turn out to be just another empty promise.
The press only turned its attention back to the Working Group after a brutal Op-Ed in the New York Daily News. The co-directors of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a citizens coalition group, called Schneiderman out and said they had yet to see any footprint of the RMBS Working Group’s investigation.
The 55 staff members promised by Attorney General Eric Holder were nowhere to be found, the pair claimed.
Yet even this Op-Ed could only draw Schneiderman’s mouthpiece out of the woodwork, rather than the Attorney General himself.
Spokesman Danny Kanner refuted their claims, saying that attorneys and other investigators had already been hired, that we shouldn’t draw any conclusions by the lack of public announcements.
“Given most investigatory matters are privileged and confidential, it is simply premature to draw conclusions about the Working Group’s scope and scale of inquiry,” Kanner told “The Nation” via email.
Under normal circumstances that might be true, but if we are to believe the President wasn’t just placating homeowners, as so many politicians have done before, don’t we deserve a transparent, above-board investigation?
There needs to be a public urgency on the behalf of the federal government, if we are to believe this task force isn’t just another dog and pony show.
The skepticism over this latest investigation is about to bubble over, and while I would never want public pressure to dictate the terms of any prosecution, the Justice Department has to know this is a crisis unlike any other.
When the Feds investigated the Savings and Loans, thousands of FBI agents were involved. To investigate the fraud at Enron, a SINGLE company, we got 100 investigators on the case.
The fraud-closure crisis has devastated more families than either and left our economy a wilted mess, so the Justice Department owes homeowners nothing less than full assault on the Too Big To Fail Banks.
Whether or not these 50+ investigators are actually on the clock, it’s not enough. There have been some reports the Justice Department will indeed hire more staff, but Schneiderman and Holder are losing whatever goodwill they created by continuing to sit on their hands.
So much time has been wasted, and the public should not be expected to continue to wait while banks turn increased profits.
Maybe President Obama meant what he said back in January, and I hope Eric Schneiderman has not been co-opted by the very forces he promised to investigate.
But whatever steam was generated by the announcement of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group has evaporated, so the feds need to step in front of the investigation and remain there.
From The Trenches,