Banks, bailouts and billions of dollars were center stage in the most recent episode of Bill Moyers Journal, in which the host interviewed two journalists to find out how things got so bad for Americans and so good for the country's biggest banks.
After an introduction about the bank CEOs getting holiday bonuses and riding a "surging ocean of greed," Moyers talked with Kevin Drum and David Corn of Mother Jones magazine, who published a series of stories about the "accountability deficit" of the financial industry. In an article titled "Too Big to Jail," the two investigated why no one has been held responsible for decisions that led to a economic meltdown.
Drum said that although Wall Street keeps plenty of the political elite in its pocket, the influence of bank CEOs has also manipulated the national conversation.
"Essentially the financial industry has convinced us — you know, in the '50s what was good for General Motors was good for America — now it's what's good for Wall Street is good for America," Drum said. "And they've somehow convinced us that we shouldn't ask about what's right or what works or what's good for America. We should ask what's productive, what's efficient, what helps grow the economy."
"It really is this "Stockholm Syndrome," where we're forced to identify with people who are holding us hostage without our interest in mind," he said.
But the sheer amount of money the banks pour into lobbying Congress can't be ignored, either.
Next week, a Congressional panel begins almost a year’s worth of public hearings to determine how the banks became "too big to fail," according to panel chairman Philip Angelides. The first interviews are with top Wall Street executives.
Yet several newspapers have already expressed doubts that the hearings will produce any answers with so much big-bank money to prevent bad press.
From the Washington Post: House and Senate leaders, who appointed six Democrats and four Republicans to the commission, allocated $8 million for its work, enough to hire about 50 investigators but “probably less than any of the investment banks will spend dealing with this investigation,” Angelides said.