Ambrose: President’s fake folksiness fails to fix fiscal failure of Wall Street 

Oh that President Barack Obama, he is such a card. Why the other day, he was talking to some Democrats at a fundraiser and he got on the subject of financial regulation, and in that faux-folksy tone he assumes when striking a partisan and mindlessly populist note, he said:

“Now, the Senate Republican leader [Mitch McConnell], he paid a visit to Wall Street a week or two ago. He took along the chairman of their campaign committee. He met with some movers and shakers up there. I don’t know what he discussed. All I can tell you is when he came back, he promptly announced he would oppose the financial regulatory reform. He would oppose it. Shocking.”

And thus the debate is over, right?

Maybe not, if someone wants to respond in kind. That person might note media reports that the CEO of Goldman Sachs — under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission — has visited the White House four times and with Obama’s top economic adviser twice, that the company has hired a former White House lawyer and that, in his presidential campaign, Obama received close to $1 million from Goldman employees and their kin.

But wait, how about serious discourse? Did Obama ever consider that sticking to analysis of issues might be more fitting for his office than cutesy ad hominem attacks?

Maybe the answer is that he quakes at people really understanding that the regulations he and fellow Democrats so love would give the government incredible new powers simply to take over major financial institutions when in the judgment of the Treasury secretary they were at serious risk, or maybe he has no good answer for how the regulations would rob consumers of choice and thereby could do major damage to the institutions and the economy as well.

My own broad take on the question is informed by a joke my father used to tell about a bird that flew backward: “He didn’t know where he was going, but he sure knew where he had been.” That’s about as good as most regulation gets.

The obvious reason is that we cannot see future financial misadventures any better than European airlines could foresee a volcano’s impact on their business this year.

The truth is, government did as much as Wall Street executives to produce the recession.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at


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