Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poor Babies; Have We Hurt Wall Street's Feelings?

This is rich. Wall Street's hedge fund managers are having second thoughts about President Obama. Not the ones that never did support him, but the Democratic ones that gave big chunks of cash to his campaign. Their sense of upper-class entitlement is nauseating. These are the people who said we were on the brink, the ones who bet big and lost, the ones who gleefully accepted TARP funds, (which in any other context would be called welfare), and now have huge earnings and bonuses to match. Yeah, I know, this applies mostly to the banksters, but everyone in Wall Street has been sucking from the federal milk cow, as Alan Simpson might put it.

According to the Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NY Times, Obama's support from hedge funds and others on Wall Street is drying up, along with donations, because he is actually trying to add some reforms. It's ironic, of course, because so many have urged the President to go much further and stop the ridiculous use of derivatives and the too-big-to-fail banks that have resulted. In our hostile anti-banking climate, especially in Obama's first year, the mood in America was for genuine banking reform, and it still is. Yet Obama gave banks so much, progressive Democrats were again ignored, and a weak financial reform bill was passed. In reality, Wall Street has rolled over Obama, but the millionaires are still not happy. They bitch about what they see as an onerous federal government (darn those regulations) but only after they have pocketed record bonuses.

What is especially revealing is how many of Wall Street's elite were enamored with candidate Obama. Why? As Sorkin says  "The prevailing view is that bankers, hedge fund mangers and traders supported the Obama candidacy because he appealed to their egos...Mr. Obama was viewed as a member of the elite, an Ivy League graduate,... president of The Harvard Law Review — he was supposed to be just like them. President Obama was the 'intelligent' choice, the same way they felt about themselves. They say that they knew he would seek higher taxes and tighter regulation; that was O.K. What they say they did not realize was that they were going to be painted as villains."

Does this not sound like the Republicans of the 1930s when they said FDR was a traitor to his class? The underlying psychological dissonance is unfolding: these are sanctimonious bastards who want money and undying admiration from America. They want to feel envy from us, not disgust. They have clearly convinced themselves they are the masters of the universe and what they do should be applauded. Instead, they see a Democratic President, a well-educated man they thought was enough like them that he could be trusted, publicly chide them. Well, he hurt their feelings, don't you know?

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