This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books).
On Tuesday, I received yet another deceptively personal e-mail addressed to "Robert" from Michelle Obama asking me once again to contribute to the "amazing journey" toward "progress" that her husband has led.
"Fool me once," I muttered, regretful of my previous contribution and even embarrassed to wear the artist-designed "Obama for President" T-shirt that I got in return. I was particularly annoyed by the first lady’s assurance that "You’re the reason we reined in Wall Street banks that were out of control," since I have written a book and numerous articles asserting just the opposite.
I envy her blind spousal loyalty—my own mate is a bit less forgiving—but how in the world can she, or the hacks that ginned out this e-mail to millions on her behalf, make such an assertion without sensing the absurd? Surely she knows that this administration has thrown trillions at the banks in the wan hope that they would respond with increased liquidity and mortgage relief to improve the lot of struggling homeowners and the unemployed, who have received nothing in return.
There are 50 million Americans who have either lost their homes or are "under water" on their mortgages, and unemployment is stuck at close to 10 percent. The real number, which includes those who have given up looking for work, or who have been forced to take crummy jobs well below their skill set, is at least double.
But the official number is high enough to shock Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. "In the last several months I’ve stared at our unemployment forecast and come to the conclusion that it’s just not coming down nearly as quickly as it should," he told the Wall Street Journal on Monday, adding, "This is a far grimmer picture than we ought to have." Pretty grim when you add the fact that there is now an all-time high of 43 million Americans living in poverty while Wall Street salaries and bonuses grow fatter.
Evans expressed a widespread concern over the developing "liquidity trap" in which the banks that have been saved from a disaster of their own making nonetheless refuse to lend as the president had hoped, and industries that have been made more secure through access to cheap money induced by the Fed don’t invest and rehire.
As for reining in the banks with his semblance of regulation over the out-of-control derivatives market that caused the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the president admitted in an interview published in Rolling Stone last month that "People have legitimate concerns that if the rules drafted by all these various agencies in charge of implementing financial reform wind up with exceptions that are so big you can drive a truck through…you could end up with an inadequate regulatory structure."