A couple months ago, I thought that President Obama’s strategic decision to defer to “safe hands” like Geithner and Summers on macroeconomic matters was wise. I even held out hope that the government would use some of its leverage over the banks to induce them to invest in our future–projects such as green energy, universal broadband, and health information technology that will be perennially neglected by investors obsessed with quarterly earnings.
But these hopes are fading as a neo-feudal reality begins to emerge. Whatever their failures, however reviled they are by the public, the potentates at our leading banks appear to believe themselves entitled by divine right to determine what projects get credit and which are denied. Rather than assert the people’s prerogative to demand investment that builds a better future for us all, our putatively progressive Treasury Department contorts itself to resist the “nationalization” label–even as conservatarians like Lindsey Graham and Alan Greenspan consider it. Like the Rubin-ites who rolled over Robert Reich and Brooksley Born in the Clinton administration to prevent derivatives regulation, these “centrist” Democrats are pushing the Obama administration into a hollow establishment “consensus” that commands the respect of few outside the Beltway Bubble, Greenwich, and the Upper East Side. For these worthies, we are impertinent even to ask about the long-secret destinations of the AIG money.