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Obama on Golden Sacks, JP Morgan CEOs: "I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen."

Simon Johnson*:

Bloomberg today reports President Obama as commenting on the $17 million bonus for Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and the $9 million bonus for Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs,

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,”


““I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”

Taken separately, these statements are undeniably true.  But put them together in the context of the Bloomberg story – we have to wait until Friday for the full text of the interview – and the White House has a major public relations disaster on its hands.

Yeah, they're "savvy" alright. Savvy at extracting trillions of dollars from the taxpayers (and then paying themselves bonuses for doing it).

Dunno about "public relations disaster," though. I don't see anything on the front page at the Kos, or Open Left, or FDL, although Atrios links to Krugman who links to the Bloomberg interview that Johnson cites. Digby, to her credit, links and posts, writing:

The only thing you can conclude is that this is a matter of principle for him and that he truly believes that these people are worth that kind of money despite the fact that they nearly destroyed the world financial system and are benefiting from its chaos and failure.

Yep. You don't bat zero for the season without a plan. Although the plan was evident from long ago, in fall 2008, when Obama whipped for TARP.

UPDATE TalkLeft covers the story two, though BTD says it's a "one day story." And the Obama apologists are out in force over at the Plum Line. All the apologists are full of it. The banksters aren't "savvy businessmen;" they embody "reckless banking."

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gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Almost everyone would like to be rich, and certainly few, if any people would rather be poor than rich. Its success that is begotten from ill gains that bothers people. It is a system that has institutionalized disadvantages for middle class and below that has people so frustrated.

Its not rocket science. Maybe Dems need to write that on their hands so they can remember it.

invisible's picture
Submitted by invisible on


Perhaps we should unite with tea partiers after all.

KIDDING! I'm kidding. Dear God.

Submitted by StephenG on

Your comment reminded me of an article I came across a little while ago concerning Colorado Springs ( Here's a little snippet:

COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

"I guess we're going to find out what the tolerance level is for people," said businessman Chuck Fowler, who is helping lead a private task force brainstorming for city budget fixes. "It's a new day."

Read more:

If you want the state outta da way, den dis is whatcha gonna get!

And remember, up until very recently Colorado Springs was touted as one of the top ten places to live in the country. At the rate they appear to be going it may end up going the way of the "Book of Eli".

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

"The banksters aren't "savvy businessmen;" they embody "reckless banking."

They are "banksters," not just bankers, after all.

Submitted by lambert on

Nor, with the good ones, does one gloat. Rather, one welcomes the class of 2010.

And, as I said over and over again, "marginal is not insignificant."

Brad's point, and it's a good one, is that Hillary would not have been better on the banks. Given the immense power they exert, probably not. The hope is that the primaries, by showing her where her base really was, would have induced her to take a more populist stance.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

See, Here.

There is a broad consensus that Congress must act to stave off deeper turmoil on Wall Street. Irrespective of the final agreement yet to be reached, there are several principles that must be part of a broader reform effort that begins this week and continues in the coming months.

This is not just a financial crisis; it's an economic crisis. Therefore, the solutions we pursue cannot simply stabilize the markets. We must also deal with the interconnected economic challenges that set the stage for this crisis -- and reverse the failed policies that allowed a potential crisis to become a real one.

First, we must address the skyrocketing rates of mortgage defaults and foreclosures that have buffeted the economy and ignited the credit crisis. Two million homeowners carry mortgages worth more than their homes. They hold $3 trillion in mortgage debt. Nearly three million adjustable-rate mortgages are scheduled for a rate increase in the next two years. Another wave of foreclosures looms.

I've proposed a new Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), to launch a national effort to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. The original HOLC, launched in 1933, bought mortgages from failed banks and modified the terms so families could make affordable payments while keeping their homes. The original HOLC returned a profit to the Treasury and saved one million homes. We can save roughly three times that many today. We should also put in place a temporary moratorium on foreclosures and freeze rate hikes in adjustable-rate mortgages. We've got to stem the tide of failing mortgages and give the markets time to recover.

At the time Hillary wrote this, Obama was pushing TARP.

Coulda shoulda woulda, maybe, but this was actual, serious policy she was pushing.

And not for the first time.

More on her economic policies.

Jumpstarting Our Ailing Economy

* $40 billion in tax rebates for working and middle-class families. The rebates should meet Hillary's principles of being fast-acting, temporary and targeted to working and middle-class families who need help the most. The rebates should not be partially or completely denied to the 50-70 millions of workers who would be left out under the plan that President Bush is considering.

* A $30 billion Emergency Housing Crisis Fund to assist states and cities mitigate the effects of mounting foreclosures. The fund would provide immediate, time-limited resources to states, cities and community organizations to help prevent unnecessary foreclosures. States and communities could also use the funds to offset the costs associated with vacant properties by supporting efforts like community-level anti-blight programs and helping local housing authorities buy up vacant properties and rent them to working families. The availability of $30 billion in federal assistance will ensure that states and cities have the resources they need to fight foreclosures, prevent a downward housing cycle impacting large numbers of homeowners and to weather the crisis without unnecessary fiscal contraction.

* Bold action to end the housing crisis, with a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and a 5 year freeze on interest rates on subprime mortgages. In addition, Senator Clinton proposed to temporarily empower state housing financing agencies to help families refinance unworkable mortgages and temporarily increasing the portfolio caps at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and enabling them to purchase larger loans in high-cost areas. These steps would immediately increase the availability of mortgages for responsible borrowers.

* $25 billion in emergency energy assistance for families facing skyrocketing heating bills. Rising home heating prices are imposing a serious and immediate financial burden on working families. Senator Clinton's emergency initiative would get immediate help to these families by empowering states to use existing income eligibility rules to distribute energy rebates or direct energy assistance without requiring time-intensive application processes. Her plan would provide an average of $650 in energy rebates to tens of millions of families. Economist Paul Krugman called Senator Clinton's plan "a clever way to put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it." [New York Times 01/14/08].

I won't argue with anyone who says Hillary and Obama are both hawks, and that there is very little difference between them on foreign policy, but they are polar opposites economically. Always have been, always will be.

Submitted by lambert on

Obviously, which IIRC Hillary was pushing in February 2008, long before the crash.

However, the problem we're faced with today -- and the problem we also faced then, had we but known it -- is that the banksters own the government and are running the country. That's a deeper question than policy. There are reasons to think that Hillary would have done better on that than Obama ("when in doubt, vote the base") but I'm not sure the case is nearly so strong as on policy, and I have to think about it.

Submitted by Randall Kohn on

She very well might have hired all those old Clinton retreads who got us into this mess such as Rubin, Summers and Emanuel! Oh, wait...

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

It's extremely slanted towards making Obama seem like a liberal and Hillary seem like a conservative.

Besides which, that was early in the campaign. Who knows what might have happened had she become President?

I agree about Stiglitz, though. He is incredible.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i just picked the one with a readable list. and i found another article stating that sperling was her lead economic advisor at the end of her campaign too.

she upped her populist rhetoric and talking points late in her campaign, for which i began to like her more and more, so perhaps she would have turned out to be a new new deal president after all. i always liked her personally a lot better than i liked obama, and being a rabid feminist, i wanted her to be the next president, but i always saw her as a liberal-ish republican.

Submitted by lambert on

Also reprising:

Senator Clinton, of all the candidates, brought out the pet-mania in a supporter. Canine attendance at her events was a phenomenon of the trail, and I had begun to take photographs of the various dogs, all wearing Hillary regalia, many squeezed into little Hillary costumes. On the evening of Monday, April 14, however, I realized that this penchant signaled more than enthusiasm. It was a sign that here sat a room full of losers--their loss magnified by their obliviousness to the reality that their candidate also was a loser. By April, despite Clinton victories in Texas and Ohio and a likely upcoming win in Pennsylvania, no one in the press, except for those prone to Super Delegate conspiracy theories, believed that Clinton would get the Democratic nomination.

But this was the time when Hillary Clinton, nourished perhaps by the respect she had received in the poor Hispanic communities of Texas, began to get her voice and a receptive audience--always now in a town's meaner streets and not, as only a season before, in the nation's professional enclaves [the "creative class"], which had begun to drift into the Obama camp. Here filling the gym risers at the Bristol Borough Junior-Senior High School, listening to John Mellencamp's "Small Town" and chanting Hillary-Hillary-Hillary! were the working class folk who would stick with her until the end in South Dakota because she, more than any other candidate in decades, was finding a way to speak to the many and varied losses in these Americans' lives.

This is retrospect.

Losers of everything but the popular vote, that is. It's stories like this that makes me think that the blessing in disguise of the Obama campaign's caucus fraud and media whorage was forcing Hillary to connect with the base -- the under-the-radar campaign of small gyms and cell phone calls that won the popular vote. Although one should remain, if not cynical, at least vigilant, we should also remember that there are times when politicians really do connect with their supporters in a good (non-tribal) way -- again, FDR would be the example. One of the many, many things that were lost in the primaries was that connection. I feel that Hillary allowed party loyalty and innate small-c conservativism to trump her connection to the base, and that was disappointing, to say the least. I can't recommend a better course of action, but those people were and are thrown away, and that's wrong.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

One of the suckiest things about the primaries is that a great, great deal of things happened that we can understand mostly through the thoroughly skewed lens of the media. And no matter how skeptical or filtered we are, there usually aren't strong alternative methods for divining what did happen. Clinton did change how she presented herself throughout the campaign (although it started before Ohio) but I'm not sure she ever really lost her connection to the base. Certainly, the base kept coming out and voting for her all through the primaries, despite daily death-knells rung out from the media, so they must have still felt connected to her.

I've lost the thread of the argument here, a bit. Is it whether Clinton would have been no better than Obama on cracking own on the financial industry, or whether she would have been FDR redux?

Submitted by lambert on

.. referred to after the convention only.

In a way, it's interesting that the energy of both the OFB and the Hillary supporters was allowed to dissipate, although in different ways.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Seems to me there are plenty of other bad actors who are also getting their licks in, including (as you've pointed out) the insurance companies, the defense contractors, the oil/coal/gas companies, the weapons manufacturers and the fundiegelicals,

I think that because Obama is in so deeply with the banks, it's possible to give them too much credit and power. Yes, I agree that Goldman Sachs is horrendous. What about Halliburton and the Iraq War? Cheney inviting the Saudi Prince, Bandar Bush, to his secret energy meetings? What about the media being forced to push for endless war because they are owned by weapons manufacturers, thus creating Versailles/the Village?

I suspect we are only disagreeing because to me, the irresistible force in America is not the banks, but the military-industrial complex. Hillary's already given in to that, for the most part. It's on economic matters (and the matter of women's rights) that Hillary has always stuck to her principles.

Submitted by lambert on

... the number of people (ok, men) one encounters necessarily grows smaller. I'm using the word "banksters" (and not "bankers") as shorthand for the very small group (class) near the peak, since I think their decision making processes are primarily driven by finance (and the classic emotions of finance, greed and fear). And that goes for the military industrial complex too, which would be shuttered in a heartbeat if it wasn't hosting the right blood funnel. The fact that the MIC kills a lot of the right people is icing on the cake!

Submitted by hipparchia on

and good on some other help-the-little-people things [the gas tax holiday combined with a windfall profits tax on oil companies, for one].

but i'm not convinced she would have turned into a new new deal democrat, though i am convinced that the left would have demanded more of her than they have of obama, which would have given us a slightly better chance economically. but a wpa/ccc jobs program employing 10 million people? reinstating glass-steagall? a bank holiday? the fact that she did propose a windfall profits tax on big oil suggests that she might also have been willing to take on big fire more aggressively than obama has, but i dunno, the economic advisors for her campaign were very dlc, which worked out ok in the tech bubble during bill's presidency...

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

That's what people didn't realize.

Sadly, the left let her hawkishness on war (which is no different from 99.9% of all other successful politicians, Repub or Dem) obscure her genuine belief in liberal economic principles and women's rights. People would even try to tell me that Obama was better than Hillary on women's rights. (Had to laugh my ass off at that assertion.)

I do agree that we would have had more leverage with Hillary. That was one reason why I wanted her to be President - I knew the left would let Obama get away with ANYTHING, whereas they wouldn't cut her the tiniest bit of slack on ANY broken promise. That kind of built-in hostility to her would have been great at keeping her in line.

As liberals, our relationship with the legacy parties should be adversarial, always, even if we "like" our representatives. Just my opinion.

Submitted by hipparchia on

a new new deal democrat? you got links? or quotes?

yeah, i couldn't believe people saying obama was better on womens rights. that was totally stoopid.

Submitted by lambert on

We could argue in favor of the idea that her economic policies would be intrinsically better by virtue of her women's policies... But it's just that. A reasonable position. I'd be a lot happier with an economic team that wasn't straight Versailles.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I admit that don't know what you're looking for. I go by the policies that she espouses and they are directed always at building the middle class and helping the poor. And no, NAFTA does not count - that was her husband's deal, not hers.

I provided multitudinous quotes and links above.

I see two main philosophies of government in America - FDR's vs. Reagan's. The way that Obama feels about government is Reaganesque. The way that Hillary feels about government is FDR-like. You can look at any of her stump speeches from 2008; you can look at her book "It Takes a Village;" she believes we all must contribute and are all in this together. Consider that in contrast with Obama's incessant finger-pointing at poor people and espousal of right-wing talking points on the economy. "Entitlement programs." "Personal responsibility." "Cadillac health plans." Etc. etc. etc.

During one of the primary debates, Hillary was asked how she would "fix" the deficits for Social Security and Medicare. She said that the first thing she'd do was raise taxes on the rich, back to the levels they were during the Clinton years. After that, she said she'd think about other solutions. The questioner tried to push her into saying she'd consider cutting benefits, but she refused to say she would.

Is that a New Deal philosophy, or a neoliberal one?

I hasten to add as always, that she is not liberal enough for me in many respects. However, I do think that when it comes to economic matters, she is philosophically, and policy-wise, at least on the right track. She is certainly not a free-market, tax-cut proponent like Obama. And regardless of who her possible advisers may have been in March of 2008, she never has been.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, CMike. Yes indeed.

And that's a great photo. Why don't you make it your first post?

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

re: this

Bloomberg today reports President Obama as commenting on the $17 million bonus for Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and the $9 million bonus for Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs,

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,”

Irked, Wall St. Hedges Its Bet on Democrats, although as jawbone pointed out, the title has changed to "In a Message to Democrats, Wall St. Sends Cash to G.O.P."

Therein, I didn't quote this intro:

WASHINGTON — If the Democratic Party has a stronghold on Wall Street, it is JPMorgan Chase.

Its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, is a friend of President Obama’s from Chicago, a frequent White House guest and a big Democratic donor. Its vice chairman, William M. Daley, a former Clinton administration cabinet official and Obama transition adviser, comes from Chicago’s Democratic dynasty.

Of course he knows these guys. They're from Chicago. And, Dimon, at least helped get Obama elected with $$$$$. Of course, they're savvy businessmen! Well, they were anyway, but might be having a slight bit of buyer's remorse. (per NYT article).

Gotta wonder if the Obama comment came in response to the underlying events that prompted the NYT article?

Submitted by hipparchia on

Gotta wonder if the Obama comment came in response to the underlying events that prompted the NYT article?