Over the last decade, Wall Street (i.e. the entire financial sector consisting of commercial banks, accounting firms, insurance companies, securities firms including hedge funds and private equity firms) showered Washington with over $1.738 billion in supposed ‘campaign contributions’ and another $3.441 billion on 2,996 officially registered lobbyists (more than five for each Member of Congress) whose job it was to press for deregulation. In return for the investment of this $5.179 billion, the Money Industry was able to get rid of many of the reforms enacted after the Great Depression and to operate, for most of the last ten years, without any effective rules or restraints whatsoever.
The title overstates the case: Wall Street and Washington did not betray the American people: betrayal presumes an obligation, an obligation which existed only as a fantasy in the population at large, a fantasy no more or less vacuous than our millennial belief in gods. We know from before Marx that the bourgeoisie — indeed every ruling class — is eternally hostile to the masses: their deception is justified as a ruse de guerre; "All's fair," as the saying goes, "in love and war."
President Obama will not — indeed he cannot — restore the standard of living afforded the American masses, even that portion grudgingly allocated the masses directly from the pockets of the bourgeoisie (much less that stolen by naked force of imperialist domination). The horse has bolted; it's too late to lock the barn door with more stringent regulation of the financial industry.
The spoils have already been taken, but now they must be allocated to one or another faction within the bourgeoisie. Obama's job (as would have been McCain's or Clinton's job) is to allocate the spoils to the faction that supports him. By his actions and explicit statements, this is precisely what he is doing.
Do not expect pity or mercy from the bourgeoisie in the coming years. Expect only empty "Hope and Change" rhetoric to distract and confuse the masses — you and me — as we are reduced to little more than slavery.