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Kamala Harris vs. the banks

Monday, November 21, 2011

imageHarold Myerson’s op-ed today in the Washington Post (and republished elsewhere) distills the battle on the income inequality front that looms huge: the attempt by the five biggest banks to skate from potential criminal prosecution in exchange for a $25-billion settlement over home mortgage abuses. The Obama administration is pushing a settlement, wanting something to crow about in advance of next year’s election. Liberal interest groups are screaming bloody murder. And a handful of state attorneys general, notably California’s Kamala Harris, are refusing so far to go along with giving the banks a much-cherished “get-out-of-jail-cheap card.”

Add: As for the local politics of it, says Meyerson:
To date, Harris remains steadfast in her resolve not to let the banks skate. Some politics is in play here, not surprisingly. To settle would mean putting at risk the support of the liberal constituencies whose interests she championed as San Francisco's district attorney. They backed her in her run for attorney general, and she'll need their support if she runs for governor or U.S. senator later this decade. Lt. Gov.Gavin Newsom, a potential primary opponent if she does run for higher office, has been vocal in his support for the community groups. Newsom has no role in the bank negotiations, but by prominently opposing a settlement, he's managed to pressure the one public official with the greatest capacity to make, break or reshape a deal.

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