Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his colleagues worked the phones to try to line up support on Wall Street for the plan announced Monday. ... Some bankers say they turned the conversations into complaints about the antibonus crusade consuming Capitol Hill. Some have begun "slow-walking" the information previously sought by Treasury for stress-testing financial institutions, three bankers say, and considered seeking capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds so they could return federal bailout money, thereby escaping federal restrictions.Did you get that? The bank execs are so worried about their fucking bonuses that they're holding the entire country hostage.
...Bankers were shell-shocked, especially when Congress moved to heavily tax bonuses. When administration officials began calling them to talk about the next phase of the bailout, the bankers turned the tables. They used the calls to lobby against the antibonus legislation, Wall Street executives say. Several big firms called Treasury and White House officials to urge a more reasonable approach, both sides say. The banks' message: If you want our help to get credit flowing again to consumers and businesses, stop the rush to penalize our bonuses.
They're "slow-walking" information that the government desperately needs, and, worse yet, they're blackmailing the government by threatening to continue withholding credit to consumers and businesses if they don't get their precious bonuses.
And they're tanking the stock market while whining about not getting personal handjobs from the president:
The stock market continued to drop, causing some unease inside the White House. At one morning meeting of the senior staff in the Roosevelt Room, an official turned over in dismay a newspaper with a headline that blared: "Obama Bear Market."Holy Maude.
...White House aides returned to some key Wall Street fund-raisers who had helped give credibility to Mr. Obama's presidential campaign. Some had complained about lack of access in the early days of his White House, according to several of them.
If anyone still needs an argument for why we need to nationalize the banks, try this on for size: Because they don't give a shit about America or Americans—which is catastrophically dangerous for America and Americans.
Related Reading (emphases original):
Hilzoy: "I think it's important to be really, really clear about what this article claims. Both the stress tests and the attempts to get credit flowing again are essential parts of our attempt to solve the enormous economic problems we now face, problems that these very firms are largely responsible for. If the banks are 'slow-walking' the stress tests and threatening not to help get credit flowing, that just is threatening not to help get the country out of the economic crisis."
Ezra: "I'm shocked at the depth of my own fury. And here's why: Not to sound naive about this, but the absence of patriotism that galls. The lack of responsibility is sickening. These bankers delivered an almost mortal wound to the American economy. ... And now they're refusing to help defuse the bomb at the center of our economy unless we pay them retention bonuses. Worse, they're threatening to flee the scene of the crime and make money off the carnage. That, it's been argued, is why we need to keep paying meeting their demands: Because we need them working for us rather than against us. It's chutzpah as the Yiddish define it: A child who kills his parents and then begs for lenience because he's a pitiable orphan. It's shameful."
Maha: "Directly or indirectly, we're all indebted to and working for the financial industry. We're turning into sharecroppers, basically, except the 'crop' is money. In a balanced economy, the financial sector should support manufacturing and labor. Instead, the financial sector drains manufacturing and labor. What we're looking at here is capitalism hitting the rocks."
WaPo: U.S. Seeks Expanded Power to Seize Firms—"The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document. The government at present has the authority to seize only banks."