Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking Sides

Didn't expect much different, but this isn't to incouraging for anyone hoping against hope that Obama would adopt a less Wall Street friendly economic policy:
From today’s WaPo report it seems that the shortlist to replace Larry Summers at the NEC has been whittled down to three men — Gene Sperling, Roger Altman, and Richard Levin.
. . .
The second notable characteristic of the three is that they’re all multi-millionaires with close ties to Wall Street. None more than Altman, of course, who has his own bank. But Levin is on the board of American Express, which paid him $181,362 in 2009, and where he has shares and “share equivalent units” worth $539,000. Which might not be a huge sum compared to the $1.5 million or so that he’s earning at Yale, but is still more than enough to make him a denizen of Wall Street rather than Main Street.

Finally there’s Sperling, who in some ways is the worst of the three when it comes to grubbing money from Wall Street. The other two have well-defined and easily-understood jobs; Sperling, by contrast, signed up with the Harry Walker Agency and started giving speeches to anybody with cash, including not only Citigroup but even Allen Stanford. He also wrote a monthly 900-word column for Bloomberg for $137,500 a year, which works out at about $13 per word.
As Atrios, Digby and others pointed out, any time an economic adviser gets floated, there seems to always be some commentary from someone who worked with them at some point in their career that they are a "secret liberal". I wrote about this after Obama's inaugeration when various people who I like were telling me that Larry Summers and Tim Giethner were going to use their credibility with conservatives to install tons of progressive reforms. It didn't make any sense then, and it makes even less sense now that people have seen two years of who Obama trusts to run the economy. It ain't progressives. And then there's this:
President Barack Obama is considering naming William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former U.S. Commerce secretary, to a high-level administration post, possibly White House chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.

Such a move, which is still under discussion, would bring a Washington veteran -- and someone with strong business ties -- into the administration as Obama sets out an agenda for the second half of his term while dealing with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

“Daley is highly respected by the business community and has great connections,” Douglas J. Elliott, an economic studies fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said in an e-mail. Naming Daley to a top post, he said, “could help mend fences” with executives who have complained that the Democratic administration is anti-business.
The fact that the White House might actually buy into this nonsense that they haven't been good for the business community is staggering. That actually bothers me the most in this mess, because even in 2008 it didn't surprise me that Obama would stack his economic team with Wall Street friendly conservatives, but it does shock me that someone so smart would put any weight into a criticism that is so obviously made in bad faith and factually false.

There was somewhere around a 0% chance the White House would change course and take the keys away from the masters of the universe, but it obviously didn't come to be. I guess "Obama 2012: We're slightly less beholden to Wall Street than Mitt Romney" tested well in focus groups.


  1. (D) 2012: still your only option besides THOSE guys.

  2. Yeah, I think that's what they're going with.

    Everyone's excited to give them lots of money and donate their free time to help them win right?