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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Irony of ironies: Obama, Wall Street and the Hamilton Project

Our friend Red Dragon asked for our thoughts on this interview with Jeff Cohen of FAIR. First, I'm not comfortable with Cohen's all-too-familiar anti-DLC yada-yada. As many of you know, I'm not one of those progs who goes into fits of paranoia every time someone mentions the dreaded DLC. But let's leave that to one side for now.

If you watch the above interview past the 4:30 mark, you'll discover that newly-minted senator Barack Obama was the only member of that body to show up for a founding meeting of a newly minted institute, the Hamilton Project, which is an outgrowth of the Brookings Institute. Is this another Potemkin Mordor (a phrase I've used to describe the DLC), or is it something real, something upon which we may base a Theory of Obama?

Follow the money. As Cohen notes, Obama got tons of green from Wall Street sources long before he was a front-runner -- even though Wall Street usually backs the front-runner and even though Hillary represented New York.

Cohen finds something sinister in the very name "Hamilton Project." Actually, I'd be thrilled if Obama's economic program were more Hamiltonian.

As readers may know, I am a huge admirer of Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans, which makes the case against free trade and other libertarian dogmas. This review by Thom Hartmann summarizes what Chang says about Hamilton:
In the earliest days of our nation, George Washington's Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, with some writing and editing help from Tench Coxe, outlined what came to be the foundation of American industrial policy. At its core was the protection of what Hamilton referred to as "infant" industries.
Hamilton's point was that there are two things needed for an "infant industry" to turn into a genuine manufacturing power. The first was cheap raw materials, the second protection from foreign competition.
To protect the nascent clothing industry (in this example), Hamilton also strongly advocated short-term supports to the budding industries (for example, government support or gifts of land for the production of factories) and tariffs on foreign-made clothing.
Wall Street has an anti-Hamiltonian bias. Finance capital is international in its outlook; industrial capitalism is national. We need to look after our own interests -- to rebuild our nation. To make stuff again.

So the question is: Is the Hamilton Project actually Hamiltonian? I'd say no.

However, an odd wind is starting to blow. Very odd indeed.

Obama has turned to anti-Wall Street rhetoric and even, praise Jeebus, to some anti-Wall Street actions, such as capping executive pay. And the Street gang is pissed. In fact, they are turning to the GOP:
Republicans are rushing to capitalize on what they call Wall Street’s “buyer’s remorse” with the Democrats. And industry executives and lobbyists are warning Democrats that if Mr. Obama keeps attacking Wall Street “fat cats,” they may fight back by withholding their cash.

“If the president doesn’t become a little more balanced and centrist in his approach, then he will likely lose that support,” said Kelly S. King, the chairman and chief executive of BB&T. Mr. King is a board member of the Financial Services Roundtable, which lobbies for the biggest banks, and last month he helped represent the industry at a private dinner at the Treasury Department.
As a result, the faux-centrist "tea party" movement -- which in large part owes its success to popular revulsion over the financial bailout -- is screaming "Socialist!", simply because this administration finally seems sorta serious about reigning in the greedy executives who slapped AAA ratings on newfangled financial instruments based on crap, thereby destroying the economy. You can see various outcroppings of this sentiment all over the right side of the net. And the Republicans in congress are now the ones protecting the big financials from regulation.

So here's the sitch -- and it's a very strange sitch, a very annoying sitch:

Obama gets into power with donations from the big financials. He spent his first year in office coddling that crowd. That coddling alienated much of his progressive base. It also allowed the right to create a fake "populist" movement against him.

Now he is slowly coming 'round to the idea of regulating Wall Street -- because that's the only way to salvage both this rotten economy and his failing presidency. The Street gang says in reply: "We brought you into this world, and we'll take you out." No money for 2012. International corporate money will be the deciding factor in upcoming elections, thanks to our lovely Supreme Court.

Neither the progs nor the tea-baggers will forgive him for Year One. The Republicans energized their base through anti-Street rhetoric -- yet they'll win elections with Street money.

Wot I calls irony, that is.
This starting to get really good. Politicians refusing to stay bought. Wall St being double crossed by their main head of state, Republicans running against Wall St, and a new "independent" third party screaming "socialism" when corporate hacks are called for giving themselves all of their shareholders money. It is all too funny.

You've just built a case for some third party candidates winning this fall as being the best thing for this country.

My Third Party
Clamping down on Wall street, something that should have been done as a provision of TARP.
But I would only go as far legislating the amount of reserve capital that they need to keep on hand, the way bonds are rated with stiff penalties for fraud and just how big they can get. Pay caps and bonuses should be left to the sock holders to change. The message should be, do what you want as far as your pay and bonuses but don't expect anymore money from Uncle Sugar.
But since Bush didn't want to do it Obama should have right after the inauguration. But we know that he didn't want to bite the hand that feeds him either.
Now that the FDR Democrats and Independents that got him and other Dems in office are starting to defect he decides to do something.
It only took New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts to prod him into action.
Is it too little too late?
When I first saw this video, the first thing that came to mind was, "I think this is something Joe would sink his teeth into."

I spoke to a "friend" the other day ( poor thing is still in the throes of Barackadiction ) and this poor soul was still under the impression Obama's millions came from some those 5 dollar donations we've all heard so much about.

When I politely asked him to follow the money, he called me a "Racist!"

Needless to say, he wont be sharing a beer with me in the future!
Whoever the Democrats ran in 2008 was going to win.

The people who bought Obama knew that he could not possibly win re-election if he did what he promised. Obama was brought in to halt any reform, stymie any meaningful investigations or prosecutions making sure nobody at Justice got any funny ideas, his other duties included expanding the wars. While Obama and his supporters thought he was successfully playing 11th dimensional chess, his financial backers were laughing at him and his supporters. They are not warning him here, they are just putting out a justification for what they are about to do next.

I disagree with you on what we should do Joseph, the only way to teach Democrats a lesson for their broad and deep betrayal, is to put so many of them on the street, with no options at lobbyist jobs because their defeat is total...across the board...complete & absolute. So no "Democrat" will ever think of betraying the working man they have for 30 years. Bad in the short run, but it is an exorcism that must take place.

God needed to give this country an enema and he choose Obama's mouth as the orifice of insertion.
Meh. I think it's all a big Kabuki dance to fool the rubes--that is, us. These "assaults" on Wall Street are hardly more than Obama kissing them a little less strenuously than he used to (capping executive pay does nothing to stop brazillion-dollar bonuses or much other brazen behavior) and Wall Street is just pretending to be all up in arms. We shall see.But until there's real action, until we see the real venom and hatred and invective they flung at FDR, I remain unmoved by this supposed "enmity" between the two parties.
As the inimitable, and sorely missed, Molly Ivins told us, you've got to dance with the one that brung you.

Carolyn Kay
When looking back on presidencies, we find 4 years is enough time for several distinct 'acts' in the play.

We're through the first act, and the next act(s) look to be different, in ways that are not entirely clear at this time.

Certainly, per Palin's miscitation of Buchanan, war with Iran would make things a whole lot different, for example.

International corporate money will be the deciding factor in upcoming elections, thanks to our lovely Supreme Court

I disgree, contrary to my original thinking on this which agreed.

I failed to realize how much they could already do, and how little that was done, under the past legal regime. Basically, corporations have ALWAYS been allowed to do so-called issue ads, so long as they skirt away from the explicit advocacy of 'elect' X or 'vote' Y. Yet these issue ads were frameable in the most damning ways, and their entirely allowed perorations to 'tell Sen. X he's wrong about Y' might as well have said 'vote against him your very next chance.'

Now the one thing they did knock out was the prohibition on such politicking advertising within x weeks of the election. Since the electorate is somewhat sleepy and inattentive to races until the very end of them, PERHAPS the corporations will take greater advantage now than what they've mainly not done. But I'm beginning to think that while I still oppose the high court ruling, it's really more of the same of what we've had to date.

I agree with you, Dancing Opossum. Buried in the Times article it says Jamie Dimon and Robert Wolf are still big Obama supporters, while their companies' Pacs, JP Morgan Chase and USB respectively, have shifted in their donations from a 50-50 split between parties in 2008 to 56-44 currently. Meanwhile, Dimon and Wolf, who together practically jump-started Obie's campaign, are still fixtures at the White House lunch table and on the links.

Big deal. Much ado about theater if you ask me.
She did say that and she would have had a ton to say if she was around now. I'd like to think that she would have come up with an equally witty phrase to justify ditching "the one that brung you".
Enjoyable article Joe and I spent time watching all 4 parts of the video. Because I spent more than 26 years in a family who are directly involved with those who are behind what is happening today, meaning the White House Coup the details explained in the video(s) were interesting. Please realize though that what is being described are the nuts and bolts of how they were able to take over the party, but today both parties are actually one with not wanting our Constitution. We only think there are two parties but there is only one and this was discussed many times in the family I was in. The family are directly linked to the Corporate and Banks with supporting their efforts for this latest WH Coup attempt.

I'm looking forward to eventually seeing our experts follow along with the breadcrumbs to finally see what's above what is currently known. It's a learning proccess and takes time.

Remember my earlier posts.... 911 was discussed with me by members of the family back in the 90's. They were involved in this criminal system since the later 70's. 911 was considered to be a starting point for a series of other operations leading to Martial Law. This seems to be coming up! The collapse of the Economic system was a favorite topic that was to follow 911. If you look back into history, a great deal of the routine to collapse is repeated and shows itself well.

Marty Didier
Northbrook, IL
Did you ever consider that "socialist" is actually a code word the republicans are using to equate Obama with Europe, European values and cement the idea into the publics head that he is somehow different than middle class America?

I am actually starting to wonder if Palin, her persona, and the tediously predictable attacks she elicits from Obama's thugs that she is a moron are part of a slow strategy by the republicans to convince Americans that Obama and democrats are "different" and that they hate traditional middle class American values.
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