While they still have total control of Washington, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats have been working feverishly to pass a financial regulatory reform bill that would give the federal government expanded powers over Wall Street. At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an investigation into Goldman Sachs and one of its vice presidents for defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages just as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter. Most recently, in an outrageous abuse of power, Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) released internal e-mails from Goldman employees, the same week Goldman execs are slated to testify on Capitol Hill, and on the same week that Democrats make their final push to pass the financial reform bill.
If you think there are coincidences in Washington when it comes to timing, think again.
Presidents are always in need of enemies. Bill Clinton had “the vast right wing conspiracy.” Obama has the Tea Party movement, and Wall Street – and he is using Wall Street, namely Goldman, as a paper tiger to help build support for financial reform. It should be noted that though both Republicans and Democrats have taken money from the firm, Obama is the highest recipient of Goldman donations by almost $1 million. By taking their money with one hand, and spanking them with the other, Obama is sending a message to other Wall Street firms that they better line up behind his reform or else they’ll be next to get an SEC shakedown from a politically-tainted prosecution.
Government has always had these massive powers, but it’s never used them in such a grossly abusive manor to impugn the private sector to arguably get legislation passed so quickly. The fact that Senator Levin released private emails should have us all worried. What’s to stop Congress from releasing any private e-mails to the public from any company it seeks to punish? Were the e-mails showing shameful behavior? Yes. Goldman staffers were boasting about making record profits off of the mortgage crisis. But there is no evidence that the actions mentioned in the e-mails were illegal. And it seems highly unlikely that government can legally tear down an entire company based on a couple low level employees. However, the more control Washington has over private business, the more we can expect to see Congress butt into their business, illegal or not, and it won’t stop with the financial sector.
This is an issue of power over privacy. And it doesn’t help Obama and Democrats, no matter the motive. This investigation only fuels the public distrust of Washington and bolsters the anti-incumbent sentiment embodied by the tea party movement and many independents. Think about the rage against how the process went down when it came to health care reform. Now we’re seeing the public question the process yet again with regard to the timing and motivation of the investigation and the leaked e-mails, as well as the speed in which the legislation is being shepherded through the Hill when it comes to financial regulatory reform.
Nobody wants the street to run wild, but we must make sure that in an effort to regulate Wall Street, we don’t end up destroying it. Sure, Wall Street has been ethically challenged, but the real root of bad behavior began in Washington. It’s time we get access to their e-mails.
Andrea Tantaros is a FoxNews.com contributor and conservative commentator. Follow her on Twitter @fxnopinion.
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Andrea Tantaros currently serves as co-host of Fox News Channel's The Five (weekdays 5-6 PM/ET). She joined the network as a contributor in 2010. Follow her on Twitter @andreatantaros or on Facebook.com/andreatantaros. Click here for more information on Andrea Tantaros.