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Democrats launch war on Wall Street; Google search for Goldman Sachs & SEC nets Obama.com ad on reform

April 19, 2010 |  8:21 am

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Schapiro during a meeting Sept. 30, 2009 by Getty Images

In some ways, the civil fraud lawsuit lodged against Goldman Sachs on Friday for betting on a housing downturn was a calling card from Mary L. Schapiro, chairwoman of President Obama's Securities and Exchange Commission. Amid rumors of more investigations to come and stunned chatter on Wall Street about how the firm's big-money donations to Democrats did not spare Goldman, the SEC's message was clear: we are on duty and on alert, and we are not going to miss the next Bernie Madoff.

But make no mistake. Democrats believe a war against  market manipulators on Wall Street will help recapture voters turned off by the massive spending program known as healthcare reform. Polls show that targeting the financial industry is more of a winner than tackling immigration reform. So, pushing a major regulatory reform bill  in the Senate that has already passed the House, and issuing talking points to vulnerable candidates, Democrats are planning to ride Wall Street to victory in the 2010 elections.

Saturday, Obama dedicated his weekly radio address to the topic. Monday morning, the White House announced the president will travel to New York on Thursday to deliver remarks at Cooper Union on Wall Street reform. Two years after the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression, Obama plans to call for swift Senate action on regulatory reform of the financial industry.

"The crisis has already wiped out trillions of dollars in family wealth and cost over 8 million jobs,"  the White House said. "The president will also remind Americans what is at stake if we do not move forward with changing the rules of the road as a part of a strong Wall Street reform package."

Pity the Republicans, who find themselves in the unenviable position of having to defend Wall Street at a time when it's the villain of the day. Their latest pitch is that the effort to tighten banking and market rules would be a costly over-reach by government regulators. That could prove a hard sell on Main Street -- one reason Democrats are wooing some Republicans, like Ohio's George Voinovich, whose state was hard-hit by the housing slump and recession.

As for the Democrats, they are all over it. This morning I tried a Google search for "Goldman Sachs" and "SEC" and the first sponsored link was the official Goldman Sachs website. The second one was an ad from barackobama.com, urging voters to join the fight against Wall Street.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Mary L. Schapiro. Credit: Getty Images

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