Liberal bloggers uncomfortable with Left's closeness to Wall Street 

Have I touched a nerve with liberal blogger Matt Yglesias at the Center for American Progress?

The fact is that Yglesias's agenda -- support for Barack Obama's health-care mandates, subsidies, and regulation plus support for the Waxman-Markey climate bill, to name two items -- is also the agenda of the lobbyists for many big business. On financial regulation, I am willing to wager that whatever bill Obama signs will have the explicit (though not necessarily public) approval of Goldman Sachs.

Yglesias has conventional wisdom on his side -- most writers assume that progressives are the foes of Big Business, and that Big Business is the foe of government regulation. That makes it odd -- though flattering -- that he's repeatedly come after the theme of my books and columns: that Big Business lobbies for and profits from Big Government at the expense of consumers, competitors, and taxpayers.

Back in February, for instance, Yglesias pounced on a Washington Post story headlined "Wall Street shifting political contributions to Republicans." The campaign finance numbers underlying this news story, however, proved exactly my point, as I drew out in a blog post

They show that the Securities and Investment Industry, Wall Street, gave 63% of its money to Democrats, improving on the Democrats' majorities from the 2006 and 2008 cycle when Wall Street gave Dems 52% and 57% of campaign cash. In fact, the numbers for the 2010 cycle so far are the most one-sided numbers we've seen from Wall Street as far back as records go.

 

As gravy ... the top three Wall Street recipients are all Democrats, and 8 of the top 10 are Democrats.

Today, Yglesias's evidence contra my thesis is this Charlie Gasparino story, which Yglesias sums up thus:

Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn want finance executives to know that concern for their interests burns deep in the hearts of Senate Republicans.

And Yglesias concludes:

Of course if the Banksters have read Tim Carney’s book they’ll know that McConnell and Cornyn are only pretending to be looking out for their interests, and really Barack Obama is their best friend.

For the record, in my book I never called Barack Obama Wall Street's "best friend." I did call him "Barack O'Bailout." I also pointed out:

  • Obama was, perhaps alone outside of the Bush administration, in position to block the bailout, but instead he assured its passage.
  • Obama renominated with glowing praise the bailout's chief champion, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He also promoted the No. 1 behind-the-scenes bailout baron, Tim Geithner.
  • In March, Obama created a new bailout program called the Public-Private Investment Partnership, which used the Fed and the FDIC to bail out both banks and investors.
  • Obama raised about a million dollars from Goldman Sachs employees and executives in 2008, the most any politician has raised from a single company since McCain-Feingold. That was more than Goldman employees, execs, and PACs gave to every single Republican running for President, Senate, and House, combined.
  • Obama added a fourth installment to the AIG bailout Geithner and Bernanke had authored.
  • Obama's campaign advisor and fundraiser Warren Buffett invested $5 billion in Goldman just before the bailout, and had earned $4 billion on that in just nine months. (Remember when Obama said "We need a President who sees government not as a tool to enrich well-connected friends and high-priced lobbyists."?)
  • Obama's West Wing includes Goldman alumni or former consultants Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, and Tom Donilon. Treasury Chief of Staff Mark Patterson is a former Goldman lobbyist.
  • Obama raised $14.8 million from Wall Street -- more than any candidate in history.

So Yglesias can try to weigh his evidence -- which here is based on a small excerpt of the way Charlie Gasparino describes a meeting -- against my evidence, which demonstrates a pattern Obama consistently favors bailouts and gets campaign funding from Wall Street (I've got plenty more evidence that didn't make the book). But snarkily caricaturing my argument in an effort to snidely dismiss it suggests weakness of argument -- and maybe some insecurity, too.

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Timothy P. Carney

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