While President Barack Obama often rails against corporate greed and expresses a desire to hike taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” Wall Street executives — the very same corporatists that conluded with Washington to bring us TARP — are sending a substantial amount of money to his campaign. Justin Elliott explains over at Slate:
The consensus view of President Obama’s State of the Union address is that it was a “populist pitch” that sought to, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “tap widespread anti-Wall Street sentiment and voter anger about economic disparity without scaring independents.”
That take on the Obama reelection campaign strategy is in line with what we’ve been hearing for months out of the White House, which previewed the concept to the Washington Post as early as October, just as the Occupy movement was getting underway.
The tension or perhaps contradiction with this strategy is that, as I’ve been documenting, this administration and the Democratic Party are not fundamentally anti-Wall Street institutions. They have deep ties to the financial services industry.
Aspects of that relationship that have surfaced recently include: Obama’s hiring as a top campaign aide of Broderick Johnson, who had been pursuing a lucrative career lobbying for the big banks; the fact that executives of Bain Capital have contributed generously to Democratic campaigns in recent years; and so on.
The latest interesting data point emerged this week in the form of an analysis of the bundlers to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee performed by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). The campaign, to its credit, voluntarily released the names of people who have bundled – in other words raised money from their social and professional circles and sent it to the campaign in one large chunk — more than $50,000.
There were just 357 of these elite bundlers in the second and third quarters of 2011. And the second most represented industry after law was the securities and investment industry, according to the CRP analysis.
The 62 bundlers who work in that industry have raised at least $9.4 million for Obama and the DNC. That “at least” is significant because the Obama campaign specifies only a dollar range in its disclosures, with the top category being “$500,000+.” So the real aggregate figure may be considerably higher.
Among these bundlers are employees of big-name firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citigroup.
Among his contributors is Jon Corzine, a former US Senator and Governor of New Jersey, who has raised some $500,000 for Obama’s re-election. As much as it will be played down, this is significant because of the recent downfall of MF Global, a financial services company that Corzine ran.
Corzine, who was at one time considered to be a candidate for Treasury Secretary, has faced some tough questions regarding the events that led to MF Global’s collapse and subsequent bankruptcy, leading him to hire a criminal defense attorney. When asked during at House committee meeting in December where $1.2 billion of MF Global investors’ money went, all Corzine had for an answer was, “I simply do not know where the money is.”
Obama likes to sound like a populist that wants the rich to pay their “fair share,” whatever that means, but he won’t own up to the fact that they is just as guilty of taking their money as the next guy.