Friday, April 18, 2014
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Obama on Ponzi schemes: We need to look forward, not back

Barack Obama was on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" today, and he answered a question, inspired by the Bernie Madoff case, about his administration's policy in dealing with a serious fraud case like this. Here's what he said: "We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of Ponzi schemes and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example on Wall Street, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep the American economy moving. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering." Pretty shocking, huh? OK, I lied. Obama didn't say "Ponzi schemes," he said "interrogations, detentions." He didn't say "Wall Street," he said "the CIA," and instead of "keep the American economy moving," he said "Keep Americans safe." But other than those three changes, that is exactly what Obama said. Why does it sound so outrageous if he's saying we wouldn't investigate fraud. but it's OK to suggest we should just move on from torture, the banning of which used to be one of the things that made America special and a role model for other nations? Seriously. Madoff's fraud is in the past and it won't happen again, just like the Bush torture policies. He seems like a docile elderly man. What's the point of putting him behind bars? Wouldn't our time be better spent making sure that fraud doesn't happen in the future, rather than dredging up the past. So a few people were hurt by Madoff -- they'll get over it. Just like torture, right? Just keep moving. Nothing to see here. Dahlia Lithwick had a good op-ed on this subject in the Times this weekend.

Obama on Ponzi schemes: We need to look forward, not back



Barack Obama was on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" today, and he answered a question, inspired by the Bernie Madoff case, about his administration's policy in dealing with a serious fraud case like this. Here's what he said:

"We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of Ponzi schemes and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example on Wall Street, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep the American economy moving. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering."

Pretty shocking, huh?

OK, I lied.

Obama didn't say "Ponzi schemes," he said "interrogations, detentions." He didn't say "Wall Street," he said "the CIA," and instead of "keep the American economy moving," he said "Keep Americans safe." But other than those three changes, that is exactly what Obama said. Why does it sound so outrageous if he's saying we wouldn't investigate fraud. but it's OK to suggest we should just move on from torture, the banning of which used to be one of the things that made America special and a role model for other nations?

Seriously. Madoff's fraud is in the past and it won't happen again, just like the Bush torture policies. He seems like a docile elderly man. What's the point of putting him behind bars? Wouldn't our time be better spent making sure that fraud doesn't happen in the future, rather than dredging up the past. So a few people were hurt by Madoff -- they'll get over it.

Just like torture, right? Just keep moving. Nothing to see here.

Dahlia Lithwick had a good op-ed on this subject in the Times this weekend.
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