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TheStreet Open House

Obama Outdoes Pro-Business Republicans

It sounded to me like a sop to small-biz owners, but it was actually one of the pro-business moves that Obama is noted for. That is, pro-big business.

The American Small Business League didn't care for the idea, with its president, Lloyd Chapman, saying: "They're not trying to save money; they're trying to close the agency because large corporations want 100% of federal contracting dollars."

Yet, sure enough, the idea was favored by the Financial Services Roundtable, a big-business lobby that fights for Wall Street and big-money interests on Capitol Hill.

Republicans on Capitol Hill immediately put up a fuss, but really, what's a Republican not to love about this guy? Obama may not have rampaged through the rust belt as Mitt Romney did when he was at Bain Capital, but his heart is surely in the right place.

The same can be said for the people he has appointed to top-level jobs in the regulatory apparatus. The jury is still out on Richard Cordray, who was appointed to the job that Elizabeth Warren should have gotten at the CFPB, but we have the stellar record of obstructionism set by Geithner, who skillfully derailed Obama's plan to dismantle Citigroup, as described in Ron Suskind's book Confidence Men.

Obama's chairperson on the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, is exceeded in her lassitude toward big business only by his attorney general, Eric Holder, who has yet to prosecute a single major Wall Street banker for criminal acts in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Schapiro's SEC is still smarting from the smackdown it got from U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, who castigated the agency for its longtime policy of letting corporate miscreants get away with "neither admit nor deny" settlement language. In reaction, Schapiro's fraudbusters showed their stuff by coming up with a change in policy. Such language would no longer be allowed in settlements with people and corporations that have been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing.

So, in other words, "neither admit nor deny" is out of the question in instances where it doesn't mean a thing, because criminal liability has already been established! I tell you, not even Harvey Pitt, George W. Bush's horrendous SEC chairman, could have produced a more vacuous public-relations gesture.

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