Opinion

Commentary: Taming Wall Street's bulls

To hear some members of Congress tell it, the Goldman Sachs investment firm isn't just the Grinch. It's the rascal who would slip Santa Claus some tainted figgy pudding on Christmas Eve. It would cut holes in collection plates. Put it this way: you know the evil banker Henry Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life"? Compared to Goldman, would say those members of Congress, he's next in line for sainthood.

Goldman Sachs leaders took a pounding Tuesday in a Washington hearing room from senators eager to flog the execs about Goldman's high-flying profits and handsome rewards for the top guns. This was in the wake of a suit filed against the firm by the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing it of defrauding investors. The timing of the visit to the Washington Woodshed was, shall we say, no coincidence.

Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama are pushing reform measures that, generally speaking, would tighten regulation and oversight of big banks and would create a powerful consumer protection agency. Proponents say the country already knows what happens when regulation is either lacking or lackadaisical. A Great Recession.

Republicans say that too much regulation inhibits free enterprise, and that excessive rule-making would discourage investors out there from taking good old American chances.

And GOP members of Congress are angry because they claim Democrats are hammering the big target of Goldman Sachs for all it's worth in an attempt to make Republican opponents fearful that if they continue to block action on financial reform, they'll be cast in upcoming elections as caviar-eating lap dogs for the Wall Street crowd.

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