New York's Attorney General On Taking On Wall Street15:30
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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has made consumer protection a priority during his tenure.

Schneiderman has reached multiple settlements with the nation's largest banks — including a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America -- over their role in selling mortgage backed securities that helped to precipitate the global financial meltdown.

New York residents received hundreds of millions of dollars in direct relief as a result. The Attorney General's office created a network of legal services providers for New Yorkers to have a lawyer to help them deal with their banks.

Schneiderman tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson he sympathizes with people's frustration that bankers were not criminally prosecuted for their role in bringing about the financial meltdown.

"It's tremendously important to our country — and to the success of the great project that is the United States — for people to believe that there is equal justice under the law; that there is no one above the law," Schneiderman said. "I think it's important for us in public life to work hard to restore the public confidence."

On updating laws for the digital world

Scheinderman says that regulating new companies like Uber and Lyft requires governments to weigh ensure that the new companies don't get an unfair advantage while re-evaluating the efficacy of the laws.

Schneiderman says regulators need to ask whether, "our laws are really important and they are important to public safety, or if they are archaic and [protectionist] and need to be adjusted to accommodate really significant innovation."

We've got to do more to ensure that people who work full time are not living in poverty, and that the massive gap between rich and poor -- which is fundamentally un-American, as far as I'm concerned -- is somehow dealt with.

Eric Schneiderman

Schneiderman's goal is for state and local governments to be able to anticipate regulatory frameworks for new technologies.

"State and local governments don't tend to be very nimble when it comes to dealing with new technology and new phenomenon, and this is going to be a big challenge for us," Schneiderman said.

On future priorities

Schneiderman says his future priorities include addressing economic inequality and reforming mass incarceration.

"We've got to do more to ensure that people who work full time are not living in poverty, and that the massive gap between rich and poor — which is fundamentally un-American, as far as I'm concerned — is somehow dealt with," Schneiderman said.

He thinks the moment is right — on both sides of the political spectrum — to decrease the prison population by focusing on providing substance abuse treatment and mental health services instead of incarceration.

"I do think the moment in America — where we are recognizing that our public safety does not require the mass incarceration of millions of young African-American and Latino men — that moment is here," Schneiderman said.

Guest

This segment aired on September 8, 2014.

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