More “fat cat” money.
Wait a second. I thought big banks are bad. Back in 2009, President Barack Obama called those on Wall Street “fat cats,” which helped establish an uneasy relationship between banks and the White House.
But less than a year out of office, Obama has had NO problem taking money from said “fat cats” for his speeches. Obama cannot run for president again, but remains an influence and just how will this affect a party that’s already in shambles?
Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman, told Bloomberg that the former president’s speeches have remained “true to his values” and that $2 million from said speeches have gone “to Chicago programs offering job training and employment opportunities to low-income youth.”
Last month, just before her [failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton] book “What Happened” was published, Barack Obama spoke in New York to clients of Northern Trust Corp. for about $400,000, a person familiar with his appearance said. Last week, he reminisced about the White House for Carlyle Group LP, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, according to two people who were there. Next week, he’ll give a keynote speech at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s health-care conference.
Cantor’s CEO Howard Lutnick said that Obama “will make remarks and take questions.” He hopes that during the time Obama spends at the three day conference the current and prospective clients “will really talk about the Affordable Care Act in interesting and nuanced ways.”
2016 Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his colleague Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have been trying to stop budding relationships between the Democrats and Wall Street. Back in April, Warren said the news of Obama’s $400,000 speech “troubled” her.
Sanders lashed out at the speech. From CNN:
“I just think it does not look good,” Sanders said. “I just think it is distasteful — not a good idea that he did that.”
While campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders, a hugely influential voice among progressives, often criticized opponent Hillary Clinton for her paid speeches to Wall Street banks. Many times, the senator demanded the former secretary of state release transcripts of those appearances.
“Look, Barack Obama is a friend of mine, and I think he and his family represented us for eight years with dignity and intelligence,” Sanders said. “But I think at a time when we have so much income and wealth inequality … I think it just does not look good.”
“It’s not a good idea, and I’m sorry President Obama made that choice,” he added.
Matthew Yglesias wrote at Vox that the money Obama receives for his speeches “will undermine everything he believes in.” He wrote:
Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama’s position. It would set a precedent.
Obama would be suggesting that for an economically comfortable high-ranking former government official to be out there doing paid speaking gigs would be corrupt, sleazy, or both. He’d be looking down his nose at the other corrupt, sleazy former high-ranking government officials and making enemies.
Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.
I’m a capitalist. I personally have no problem with Obama’s speeches. But like I mentioned, this could have an affect on the Democratic Party, which is trying to put the pieces back together after an awful November…for them. And for Obama, who railed against Wall Street and implemented reforms on banks, it seems pretty hypocritical for him to do this.
Jeff Hauser, head of the Revolving Door Project, told Bloomberg that since Obama still works with the Democratic Party he should “play by the same rules:”
“He’s continuing to exercise the authority,” Hauser said, citing Obama’s support for the party’s redistricting committee and the push he gave Tom Perez in the race to head the Democratic National Committee. If he wants to play a role, “he ought to forgo a few hundred thousand here and maybe a half-million there.”
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