WASHINGTON, April 25, 2017 — Do you remember when President Obama blamed Wall Street bankers for the 2008 financial crisis, publicly called for their accountability, and in 2009 referred to them as “fat-cats”?
“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street,” Obama famously told CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
In 2011, Fox Business Network financial reporter Charlie Gasparino’s book, “Bought and Paid For: The Unholy Alliance Between Barack Obama and Wall Street” showed that the White House rewarded some of its high-profile campaign donors in the financial industry by structuring massive bailouts that kept banks profitable at taxpayer expense.
The book described two of the Obama Administration’s biggest acts of banker collusion. In June 2007, candidate Obama sought the financial banking of Wall Street during a “secretive meeting” with Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, Merrill Lynch number-two Greg Fleming, BlackRock chief Larry Fink, former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn and Bear Stearns mortgage-bond whiz Warren Spectora, dining in a private room at Johnny’s Half Shell restaurant in Washington, D.C
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, the target of criminal inquiry while under investigation committing potential securities fraud, tried to get back in the government’s good graces by pledging $20 million to ShoreBank, an ailing Chicago bank. The interesting connection is that though the bank is small, its Chicago political connections include Obama’s senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, who sits on the board of a civic organization run by one of the bank’s directors.
Gasparino writes that Morgan Stanley, one of Obama’s favorite banks, handled key deals for the administration, such as the sale of government’s ownership positions following the bailouts. These were brokered by Morgan executive Tom Nides, one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers on the Street and a close friend of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The book isn’t all wine and roses between Obama and Wall Street. It includes quotes from people like James Dimon, Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase, who in reference to financial regulatory reform legislation screamed at JPMorgan’s lobbyists in DC, “What the fuck are you guys doing for us! You guys are worthless!”
Dimon’s anger was also directed at New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand. He told the latter over the phone that she was a “sellout” and “good for nothing.”
Wall Street executives, Gasparino writes, later huddled with top Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, in a private room at Manhattan’s Peninsula Hotel.
Wall Street’s dislike of Democrats is a thing of legend. Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn once cornered Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a fundraiser at Goldman’s headquarters in Manhattan. “Who do you think you are, coming here asking for money while you trash us?” Reid sat back and took the abuse, even as Cohn shouted, “We’re getting sick of the bullshit!”
Yet Wall Street players play all sides of the aisle, and despite Wall Street’s anger, Reid went home with $40,000 in donations that night.
Gasparino reports that a senior executive at Goldman said, “Obama couldn’t give a shit about all this anti-Wall Street stuff. He needs to bash us to get his bullshit financial reform through Congress.” After Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., derisively referred to the eight CEOs of the biggest banks to get TARP funds as “captains of the universe” at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on February 11, 2009, one of the CEOs muttered, “She’s such an asshole.”
It seems now that all is forgiven; less than one hundred days after he moved out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Obama climbs into the litter box to speak at a Wall Street conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald LP, senior sources there confirm to FOX Business.
His speaking fee is reported to be $400,000, which is almost twice as much as Hillary Clinton charged private businesses for such events.
The keynote speech during Cantor’s health care conference is reportedly set to last one hour, with no news as to whether Obama will conduct a Q&A session with the group.
Gasparino has confirmed to FOX that Obama has signed the contract, but the company, a mid-sized, New York-based investment bank, is waiting to coordinate with the former president before making a formal announcement.
Obama, in the guise of a progressive Democrat, spoke frequently about Wall Street greed. It was a favorite go-to for the president during his 8-year administration. If the mainstream media were honest, it would take note of the former president’s record of Wall Street wallops, attacking the huge salaries and bonuses executives were paid while average Americans were suffering from the ravages of the 2008 financial crisis that he blamed on Wall Street.
“Is there an irony here because he spoke incessantly about the income gap and is now earning from those same people he criticized? Yes it is,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant. “Should we expect it? Yes, we should because all former presidents do this. He went on the attack against Wall Street and now he’s being fed by those same people he called ‘fat cats’. It’s more hypocritical than ironic.”
Sheinkopf says that while Obama may receive criticism from Republicans for his alleged hypocrisy over accepting the speaking fee from Wall Street, he thinks the criticism inside his own party will be muted even from such notable class warriors as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Democrats are lacking so much leadership that they aren’t going to be upset with this,” he said. “They have no heroes anymore, and [Obama] was their last great hero, so how can they turn on him even though he is being a bit of a hypocrite?”