President Obama put the bully pulpit to good use on Monday by scolding bankers for fighting consumer protection legislation and failing to explore "every reasonable way" to increase lending.
In all likelihood, though, his jawboning fell on deaf ears. That leaves it up to the Senate to follow the House of Representatives in adopting a plan tightening regulation of financial institutions.
The failure of money managers to adopt pro-consumer policies over the last year has fueled public rage. That, in turn, gave House Democrats -- no Republican voted for it -- the political courage to ignore the pleas of one of the most pampered industries in America and adopt the financial reform plan. The measure now goes to a Senate chamber that is markedly friendlier to banking lobbyists.
It should be obvious by now that those responsible for the Great Meltdown will never hold themselves accountable or adopt more prudent practices unless the law requires it. President Obama is right. The people on Wall Street don't get it.
In Europe and Britain, governments have slapped 50 percent taxes on year-end bonuses in the financial industry as a way to make it clear that this is no time for bailed-out bankers to be relishing big paydays.
As one newspaper noted, this huge tax bite was once unthinkable, but it is a fair reflection of public attitudes toward an industry that bears much of the blame for what went wrong with the economy.
Some of that, no doubt, reflects disgust over the anything-goes attitude that prevailed on Wall Street in the years when lax regulation eased the way for big profits and even bigger risks and speculative investments.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.