Dude, this is right out of the first year political science textbook (the real one they give to operatives, not the academic bullshit): The the boss makes vague pronouncements in favor of something popular, a subordinate quietly undermines the specifics, and everyone gets to have his popular cake and eat his capitalist privilege, too.
Is there any evidence that Obama actually believes any of the populist bullshit he campaigned on?*
Update: As Mark Thoma notes,
[T]here's zero chance the proposals Obama announced today will ever be law. This was a fairly transparent political stunt — the White House needed to do something to take the media's focus off of health care 24/7, so they flew in Volcker and announced some proposals that sound good to the media. The two Senate staffers I talk to regularly both said their offices were basically ignoring Obama's proposals, because even if the White House fights for them (which they won't), Chris Dodd has no intention of inserting them into his committee's bill. I like how some people think Obama's proposals represent a fundamental turning point on financial reform, because....well, clearly this is their first rodeo.