Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Marc Rich — How The Democratic Party Sold Out To Wall Street

Robert Rubin was the smartest guy in a room full of guys who thought they were the smartest guy in the room. When Bill Clinton appointed him Treasury Security, Rubin explained to the president how the U.S. economy could get a quick shot of prosperity at the same time Wall Street got a huge burst of profits, in a way that also guaranteed that the Clintons could always use New York City as their political and personal ATM.

President Clinton bought in (or was bought out, if you prefer). Wall Street was unleashed, a process that climaxed with the trashing of Glass-Steagall in 1999, a move that in essence put taxpayers on the hook if Wall Street greed and excess went really, really awry. Wall Street reciprocated by giving big to the Democratic Party (a deal is a deal). Barack Obama bought into the same deal after the 2008 market crash and played his part in the arrangement by appointing Wall Street enabler Tim Geithner to be his Treasury Secretary.

There was still something missing, however — at least from Wall Street’s perspective. A legal thing.

Sure, Wall Street was free to “innovate” in ways that made huge fortunes for the folks at the top of the The Street heap. But if this “innovation” was so egregious and flagrantly dishonest that Main Street howled loud enough, there was still the danger that the biggest innovators might go to the slammer. And what’s the point of sucking a billion or two from an infinitely corruptible system if you have to a spend a year or two in a federal lock-up, even a minimum security one with a pool and tennis courts?

Enter the Marc Rich solution to this conundrum.
Rich, who just died at the age of 78, was a commodities trader. He fled to Switzerland in 1983 to get away from federal indictments charging him with 50 counts of wire fraud, racketeering, illegally trading with Iran, and evading more than $40 million in income taxes.

Rich’s wife gave generously to the Democratic party while hubby enjoyed his time in the Alps until 1999. The day before leaving office that year Bill Clinton pardoned Rich, allowing him to return to this land of commodities trading opportunity a free man.

What was really interesting in this pardon — at least to those who closely monitor the decline in this country’s public integrity — was the reason President Clinton gave for the pardon. It was stated that Rich could be pardoned because he shouldn’t have been charged with criminal violations at all, but with civil ones. You know, civil offenses. Like wire fraud, racketeering, illegal trading with a country under U.S. embargo, and tax evasion.

Fast forward to the present. In the wake of the 2008 financial disaster, Wall Street’s greed and arrogance operating in a milieu of trashed government regulation has brought extreme misery to huge numbers of people in this country and around the world. Nonetheless, not a single high level Wall Street miscreant has gone to jail for his part in massive fraudulent schemes. And the reason? Our Department of Justice has made it clear it does not consider such deeds criminal in nature. After the Rich pardon, they are merely deemed civil infractions to be excused with fines paid with money made in the frauds.

Summing up: Bobbie (Rubin) and Billy (Clinton) concocted Wall Street-friendly schemes that among other things neutralized the Democratic Party as a traditional buffer against Wall Street predation, a role that had traditionally only been played by Republicans. And Richie (Marc) Rich’s pardon provided a template, a mechanism, that perpetually excuses even the worst Wall Street slime from criminal punishments.

(Coming very soon from Michael Silverstein: The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street.)

Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant, Learns The Truth: Big Banks Now A Branch Of Government:

(When Mr. B. enters the Goldman Sachs washroom for his regular morning visit, he finds washroom attendant Selig Cartwright waiting expectantly…)

What is it, Selig? You look pensive. Is there something you want to tell me?

No, sir. Something I want to ask you. Do you vote, Mr. B?

Of course, I vote, Selig. It’s every American’s duty. We need to elect the best possible representatives who will make the best possible laws.

That’s what I’ve always thought too, sir. Except now…now…

Now what, Selig? Speak up man.

It’s some stories I’ve been reading in the New York Times, sir. Hearing elsewhere, too.

That rag. No wonder you’re upset, Selig. What have they been writing now? I’ll wager it’s something nasty about big banks.

Yes, sir. They and other media are saying, well, hinting strongly anyway, that the people we think we’re electing to make the best possible laws don’t really make the laws that affect big banks. That the banks themselves, their lobbyists, their lawyers…

Stop right there, Selig. I know where this is going. They’re saying that after the people in Washington we elect to make laws that are supposed to regulate Wall Street, they pass these laws along to other government officials to make the regulations that actually allow the laws to work, but these other government officials end up negotiating with us, and we make sure these new laws don’t work against our interests. Is that what your reading and hearing, Selig?

That’s exactly what I’m reading and hearing, sir. Is it all lies?

Lies, Selig? Of course it’s not lies. That’s exactly the way things are done these days. What’s the problem?

I guess the problem, Mr. B, at least for some people, is that companies and industries the government think have done things, or might do things, that require regulation to protect the public, shouldn’t write these regulations themselves.

I could tell you a lot of reasons that argument is silly, Selig. Instead, I’ll just say what Dick Cheney said when it was pointed out that the overwhelming majority of Americans didn’t think we should get into a war in Iraq.

What did he say, sir?

Cheney said just one word, Selig. He just said: “So.”

I don’t understand, sir.

What he was saying, Selig, was that no matter what most Americans thought or wanted, he and others in the Bush Administration had the power to start a war if they wanted to start a war. No one could stop them. They had the power and they could use it as they saw fit. And if most Americans disagreed, thought it was stupid, thought it would lead to disastrous consequences, “So.”

You mean, Mr. B., that Washington passed Dodd-Frank to keep Wall Street from operating the way it wants to operate, and people are disappointed because you’re putting the kibosh on its effective enforcement.

“So.”

And Americans are furious because the big banks made a record $40 billion-plus in the first quarter of this year while average wages and benefits for other Americans, even the ones who still have a job, are stagnant or falling.

“So.”

And if Democrats instead of Republicans are in power, when it comes to really keeping Wall Street in check, both end up going along with what Wall Street wants.

“So.”

Which makes present-day politics, at least when it comes to Wall Street, irrelevant. No matter who seems to be in power, you’re in power when it comes to things that involve your own interests.

“So.”

And that in essence, sir, Wall Street has become a fourth branch of government with powers equal to the other three branches on critical economic matters.

An equal branch of government, Selig? Are you trying to be offensive?

No, sir. I just meant…

Selig, Selig, Selig. They’re on the phone every day begging us for money they think they need to get reelected. They’re sucking up to us daily so they can get fat pay goodies after leaving office. We’re funneling money to their family members directly or indirectly if they play along with what we want. All the people who argue our case on legislation, and negotiate regulations, are their ex-employees — or former colleagues. Yes, Selig, we’re a fourth branch of government. But equal? Let’s just say some branches are more equal than others.

Now I understand present-day American politics, Mr. B. I’m still a little confused about something, though. You told me just a few minutes ago how important it is to vote? But if you control so much and you’re not voted into an office, why is voting still so important?

Because, Selig, when the next big crash comes, the blame is going to fall on people who were supposed to make laws to prevent it. It’s elected people who are going to take that hit. And when the next crop of pols replaces them, because we don’t have to be elected, we’ll be free to buy them, too.

An inspiring explanation, Mr. B.

Yes, Selig. And one that should make you very proud. You’re part of the big bank team, after all.

My cup runneth over, Mr. B.

See that it’s the only thing in this washroom that so runneth. You’d be amazed how many job applications we get these days for jobs like yours, jobs cleaning Wall Street bathrooms.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve, sir.

Continue to do so, Selig. Now get my Stall #8 ready for use. Pronto.

(Michael Silverstein’s new comic novel, MURDER AT BERNSTEIN’S, is available from Amazon.)

To Win Congressional Elections in 2014, Run AGAINST Money

In post-Citizens United America, political wisdom says the country has become a mammonocracy, that a candidate with the most money wins, or only loses when the other candidate has almost as much money.

Is this true? Maybe now it is. Need it always be true? Maybe not.

Suppose a candidate instead of depending on raising money to win, uses the fact he/she is running AGAINST money to win. Here’s the pitch of such an electoral rebel:

“I’m not accepting contributions from anyone. Not big contributions or small ones, because candidates who do have to sell out to their contributors. I also don’t have a lot of money of my own to buy a government office. So you won’t see any flashy TV ads for my campaign. Any outside groups that run such ads will also not be guaranteed anything from me in return, anything I wouldn’t do anyway. These days money buys politicians. I’m not for sale. That’s why you should elect me.”

Two questions immediately come to mind about this approach: The first, of course, is what does a candidate who uses it stands for? The second is more complicated — if you have no money for a campaign, how do you run one?

In answer to the first question is that you may not even have to state another issue, because running against money at a time when everyone else seems to be running just to get more of the stuff is an issue of its own. If you are pressed for your views on other matters, that’s great, since that would mean that some prospective voters or some media outlet find you interesting enough to ask — an interest that your stand against money-in-politics spawned.

And how do you run a campaign without big bucks at a time when money-talks-and-no-pol-dare-walk is the accepted wisdom of the day? It might not be all that hard. Start with a personal base of friends, associates, organizational and Internet contacts. Put together an email contact list of media in your electoral area. Use the former to start gathering names needed to get on the ballot. With the latter key off the fact that virtually all media these days play follow-the-leader, and once one or two give this gimmick candidacy an airing, the rest follow. Once on the ballot crush your opponents in debate by pointing out (endlessly) that they are on-the-take, they are bought-and-paid-for by those who give them money for their campaigns. Force them to prove otherwise.

What’s the ultimate purpose of these campaigns? To win? Sure. That would be nice. But the ultimate purpose is really just to drive home the point that a political system run only to advance the interests of those who can raise a lot of money is inherently undemocratic and invariably corrupt.

This point, as our present governance clearly demonstrates, can’t be made too often.

(Murder At Bernstein’s, a novel by the author of this piece, is now available from Amazon.)

A Republican-Like Tax Reform Even Progressives Could Love

Republicans have a plan to reform business taxes. They want flatter business taxes that lower the tax rate on highest taxpayers; that don’t reduce the revenue generated because it spreads the tax net to reach formerly untaxed or under-taxed businesses, and which therefore don’t increase overall taxes (Grover Norquist wouldn’t like that). And this reform, it is claimed. would spur a great deal of positive economic activity.

A good idea? Maybe. After all, President Obama supports the same approach. So if this approach to reform business taxes has this kind of support, why not apply exactly the same approach to the Payroll Tax that supports Social Security?

Instead of applying a 6.2 percent Payroll Tax rate only to the income of middle class working taxpayers making less than $113,700 per year and their employers, spread the net and apply it to all earners at all income levels and to unearned income as well as earned income. Then, not use the extra income generated to reduce deficits, or boost funding in a Social Security Trust when the Social Security system is already well funded for decades, but instead use the extra revenue to reduce all payroll taxes to 4 or 4.5 percent, both for individuals and their company employers.

This is exactly what Republicans and President Obama want to do with business taxes. The rates of all payers here are flat, not progressive — everyone pays the same, a long time conservative preference. The total amount of taxes collected is not increased, merely shifted from individuals and businesses currently over-taxed to those currently untaxed. This is therefore not a tax hike, just a tax shift via net spreading — just like the Republican business tax proposal.

As to how this Republican-style Payroll Tax reform would benefit the overall economy, the results would be very positive indeed. The extra income to middle class workers would almost all get spent, pouring billions into sales of more products and services. Extra income for middle class workers would also keep more of them from becoming poor enough to need government entitlements, reducing government costs. Small-scale employers, who pay their own 6.2 share of the Payroll Tax, would also get a tremendous bottom line boost that would allow them to increase their hiring.

The argument that this Payroll Tax reform would reduce investment from those now excluded from this tax is foolish. The reason is that investment is best generated by sales increases, not tax breaks. Makers need takers to buy their goods and services. With the middle class richer, investment would pour into meeting the middle class’ greater capacity to buy what the makers make.

This Republican-style reform of the Payroll Tax would even have very solid backing from progressives in the Democratic Party. It’s the kind of middle class boost that progressives have always supported.

A Republican-style tax approach that Democratic progressives can support and that can give a huge boost to the overall economy without actually increasing overall tax levels. What is there not to like here?

(Michael Silverstein’s new novel, Murder At Bernstein’s, about a financial news billionaire who wants to get elected Mayor of Philadelphia, is now available on Amazon. Silverstein is a former senior editor with Bloomberg News, and National Public Radio’s Wall Street poet.)

Occupy Wall Street And The Tea Party — Coming Together at Last?

Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive senator from Vermont, is introducing a bill this week that would break up the Too-Big-To-Fail banks. It would require Treasury Secretary Lew to compile a list of these institutions in 90 days, and after that give him a year to actually cut them down to a size small enough so that their failures would not require the government to once again bail out these risk-loving giants.

A similar proposal sponsored by Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in the form of an amendment to a senate budget resolution passed that body by a 99-0 vote on March 22. There’s a big difference, however, between a resolution that has no effect as a law and Sanders approach that would be a law. Sanders’ bill would make things real.

This bill is a natural to garner support from Occupy Wall Street — a no-brain observation that only requires looking at this group’s name. But it could also garner the support of The Tea Party — or at least some elements of that party — which first came into being animated by disgust at the last huge government bailout of Wall Street. Tea Party favorite senators were part of the 99-0 vote for the Brown-Vitter resolution amendment.

This desperately needed Too-Big-To-Fail bank bill will nonetheless likely die, as is so often the case with good pieces of legislation, in the Beltway funny house where common sense and common decency tend to succumb to institutional inertia and back room special interest power plays. Unless…

Unless the press piles in on Sanders’ measure big time. If it became THE issue of the week, the month, the congressional calendar, it could conceivably survive and become the law of the land.

One obvious way to help make this happen is simple. Occupy Wall Street is the voice of the progressive left. The Tea Party is the voice of the hard right. If they were to come together publicly on this issue, it’s the kind of quirky joining the press would be on, and on, and on.

So let’s do it, Occupy people. Get on the horn and call the folks at your local Tea Party group. Sponsor joint shouting matches the next time a congress person deigns to come to town. Let this worthy try to explain why he or she supported this Wall Street shrink down in resolution form but won’t push hard for it when it really matters.

(Michael Silverstein’s new comic novel, Murder At Bernstein’s, will be published soon.)

Paul Krugman’s Cloying Tribute To Timidity, Mediocrity And Failure

In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman looked over the Obama presidency to date and found it praiseworthy. And to those progressives who might be profoundly disappointed in this President (and his party) Krugman opined: “…maybe progressives — an ever-worried group — might want to take a brief break from anxiety and savor their real, if limited, victories.”

My, my. How little it takes to impress Mr. Krugman. How willing he is to label the adoption of a traditional conservative Republican Party agenda, promoted and enabled by a Democratic president and the Democratic Party, as a “victory” for progressives simply because the ideas of a nutcake wing of the conservative Republican Party were not fully realized.

What are the things that Mr. Krugman said progressives should savor as real, if limited, victories? First there was Obamacare, which you may recall (though he prefers not to in this commentary) was first proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and found its first actual incarnation as Romneycare in Massachusetts.

Should progressives have expected the Democratic President, Democratic House of Representatives, and Democratic Senate that existed after the 2008 election to start the fight for health care reform proposing a single-payer system or Medicare for all? Tsk, tsk. Couldn’t have that.

There was a determined opposition, after all, and if this opposition wanted a fight, Democrats must back down. And of course in this health care negotiation Democrats should never, could never, have started fighting for single-payer or Medicare for all so they would end up with something less than either but more progressive than Obamacare. How could ever-worried progressives dare think otherwise?

And what does Mr. Krugman see as a real, if limited, victory addressing the issue of income inequality? He points to the outcome of the recent fiscal cliff negotiations, of course.

Such a victory! Mr. Krugman’s own newspaper, The New York Times, described this outcome in a headline as “A Republican Fiscal Dream.” Which of course it was. It raised only half the new tax revenue from the rich ($600 million versus the $1.2 trillion over 10 years President Obama originally demanded), made generous (for the rich) dividend and capital gains rates permanent, but allowed Payroll Taxes paid only by the poor and middle class to rise significantly.

But in return, Republicans allowed some tax to rise. Wow! Some piddling tax increases were allowed by Republicans for the very rich! What a victory for progressives! How could those haughty lefties possibly expect more?

And what does Mr. Krugman see as a real, if limited, victory addressing the issue of markets so warped and rigged that Wall Street’s misbehavior almost destroyed the entire world economy a few years back? Why the Dodd-Frank law, of course, opined Mr. Krugman.

Financial markets are today far more concentrated, more too-big-to-fail, more riddled with wacko financial products and vast amounts of funny money from national banks than 2007. Dodd-Frank won’t change this ever a’building horror show in any meaningful way.

Ah. But it’s a law. It has a name. So in Krugmanland, though not perfect, it’s a success, limited, but nonetheless deserving of progressive praise.

Hasn’t it occurred to Mr. Krugman (and indeed the Washington Democratic establishment) that the Republicans are playing Bad-Cop, Good-Cop in all the negotiations that led to all these lousy results? That the Bad-Cops are the crazy Tea Party people and the Good-Cops are traditional Republican defenders of the rich and shafters of everyone else? And that going along with these Good-Cops isn’t a progressive victory, it’s capitulation to the right?

Apparently that hasn’t occurred to either Mr. Krugman or the Democratic establishment he is at such pains to defend. Strange. Because it’s obvious to every real progressive in the country who isn’t physically, intellectually, or spiritually sited inside the Beltway.

The Democratic Party of Clinton, Obama and Charlie Schumer has forgotten its progressive roots and lost its progressive soul. Yes, on social issues and in foreign affairs it retains some of its old principles — which is the reason that so many commentators called President Obama’s inaugural address a clarion of liberalism. But the economic vision and fire that for decades after the Second World War made the Democratic Party an unyielding supporter of a prosperous middle class and the poor man’s friend is gone.

Today’s Wall Street friendly, rich accommodating, give-it-all-away-in-negotiations, Obama/Clinton/Schumer Democratic Party can’t do what it should be doing because it no longer has the will to do so nor the interest in trying. It’s Republican-Light. It’s only apparent reason for continued existence is that it’s not quite as bad as the other choice. And commentators who are again determined to see in yet another Obama well-crafted-for-the-occasion speech a different set of future actions at the economic negotiating table are just in for another round of deep disappointments.

Let us hope the ongoing erosion of the middle class and the swelling ranks of the poor under such governance continues to be only slow and steady, and that there’s still time for a better political instrument to emerge that truly turns the tide. Because if Wall Street brings the world economy to the brink again before Americans see such an effective instrument in our politics, an alternative will emerge here from the far, far right that will be most frightening to behold.

(Two fast paced five star novels by Michael Silverstein, Fifteen feet Beneath Manhattan and The Bellman’s Revenge, are now available from Amazon.)

Obama Gets Rolled — Again

We hoped otherwise but down deep we always knew. We knew that when negotiations about avoiding a fiscal cliff involved just two men, President Obama and House Speaker Boehner, Obama was going to get rolled. Again. This president has been called the worst negotiator in America. He just lived up (or should I say down) to this reputation.

Even before being elected for the first time, Mr. Obama promised he would never yield when it came to doing away with Bush-era lower income tax rates for the top two percent of earners. He caved on that after Republican Tea Party reps took over the House in 2010. Running for reelection this year, however, he promised that this time he really, really, would not, absolutely not, cave on this rates issue.

Today he is reported to have now done so. Speaker Boehner threw him a bit of cover by asking for income tax increases only on those making more than $1 million a year, so the president could say his own counter-offer of a tax level of $400,000 a year is a compromise.

A compromise? No. A broken promise. Again

Obama also promised he wouldn’t give on Social Security. Now we hear that he’s offering to have the Social Security COLA (cost of living adjustment) changed in a way that pretty much guarantees there won’t be any upward adjustments in years to come.

A good idea? Of course not. There are much better ways (lots of them) to make up shortfalls in revenue that don’t reduce benefits for elderly recipients whodepend on this COLA. Taking the Republican route instead, one not only disfavored by most Democrats but by a large majority of Americans, was just a cave. A broken promise. Again.

Imagine, now, if Mitt Romney had won the presidency. Not by the 4 percent that Obama won a second term, but by a single vote in the Electoral College, and perhaps even with less than a popular majority. Here’s what a President-Elect Romney would say about the present negotiations — and how he would act when actually sworn in.

“I was elected,” he would say — and act. “I won. The people have chosen me to lead and I will lead. And those who oppose me in congress will not keep me from carrying out my mandate.”

Here’s the really bad news. The Obama caves this year set the tone for the much bigger tax and spending policy battles early next year. Republicans now know they are still dealing with a president who will give big time if they simply hang tough. Progressives know they are losing in the present negotiations between Obama and Boehner the battle they thought they won at the ballot box.

Mr. Obama was a lawyer before he ran for public office. The primary job of lawyers is to negotiate. With other lawyers, with juries, with judges. I pray that if I ever need a lawyer in the future, I never get stuck the one who negotiates like the man my vote just helped reelect to the White House.

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You can contact me at mike@wallstreetpoet.com. You might also enjoy reading my comic novel, Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan. Hit the icon here for more information about the book:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012

Play The Tea Party Card, Stupid!

For years the Republicans have been winning elections by playing the “liberal card.” They have turned this generic, largely meaningless description of a political worldview into a pejorative evoking all the failures of big government without evoking any of its successes.

This proven campaigning technique has me wondering: Why aren’t Democrats playing the “Tea Party card” the same way today?

I don’t want to get into whether the Tea Party and its politics are a good thing or a bad thing here. That’s not the point of this post. My point is that most people simply don’t like what the Tea Party seems to stand for. If you say the other candidate is a Tea Party candidate, or that he or she supports what the Tea Party supports, there is thus an advantage in a great many jurisdictions and at different levels of politics, from the presidential on down.

There is absolutely noting to lose by doing this. There are no blue dog Tea Partyers. None that vote the Democratic line. You can say nasty things about these people without losing any of their votes. They are already lost.

The Democrats own base would like this rap. You are pushing one its buttons, reminding them why they have to turn up at the polls.

And it would play well with most independents, the proverbial undecided, because while being against the Tea Party doesn’t really say what you are for, at least it suggests clearly what you are really against.

Trashing the Tea Party also has the potential to embarrass Republicans who these days are fleeing so desperately to the middle, toward moderation. Ask a Mitt Romney or a Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts whether they support Tea Party positions, and what are they gonna say? “Yes,” and they seem too extreme. “No,” and they offend one of their prime constituencies.

In the next two weeks, Ye Democrats, play the Tea Party card. It’s not the high road to victory. But it’s a road that might help you get where you want to be. And where the country needs to be.

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To learn more about a quirky novel from the author of this piece, hit this icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012

The 1936 and 2012 Presidential Elections — Similar Economic Scenarios, Very Different Possible Outcomes

How can a sitting Democratic President in 2012, who came to office with a huge electoral mandate four years earlier in the wake of a Republican-generated economic disaster, actually look like he might lose this coming November to a Republican who politically, economically and even personally so perfectly embodies virtually everything that got this Democratic president elected in 2008? The simple answer: Mr. Obama’s behavior toward Wall Street since coming into office.

FDR’s New Deal didn’t bring an end to the Great Depression. When he ran against Kansas Governor Alf Landon in 1936, the country was still wallowing in post-1929 economic misery. Republicans that year could say (and did say) with great honesty that FDR’s policies hadn’t brought back prosperity.

What these policies did do, however, was honor FDR’s promise to give the country a New Deal, especially as it applied to a Wall Street establishment the country distrusted and disliked for very good reasons. In the wake of his 1932 victory FDR did not dump advisers with populist notions with regard to The Street. He didn’t seek to reassure The Street that things wouldn’t change in major ways. He didn’t shy away from financial reforms that would dramatically change the way The Street operated. He didn’t stop hammering away at The Street so as not to offend big players there who might contribute big money to his campaign. He didn’t just take occasional verbal whacks to play to a voting base.

Voters in 1936 responded accordingly. Six months before that year’s election there wasn’t anyone in the country, Republican as well as Democrat, who didn’t know who would win in November. FDR cruised to the greatest electoral victory that year since 1820.

Compare what FDR did with respect to Wall Street with what Barack Obama has done since coming to office. Mr. Obama promised change and hope in 2008. He’s given little or nothing with respect to Wall Street. He traded the populist, truly reform-minded economic advisers he had during his 2008 campaign for a Wall Street friendly Tim Geithner — an adviser and Treasury Secretary whose counsel regarding Wall Street might charitably be termed protective, and less charitably, but perhaps more accurately, plain out appeasement.

Mr. Obama’s general stance toward Wall Street has been to reassure it, not rock the boat, not change things in major ways at all, or only change them in ways that can easily be undone directly via later legislation or less directly through lobbyists’ quiet efforts. When he actually deigns to say negative things about The Street, the comments are nuanced. And after one such obviously politically motivated tweaking, he went off to meet with hedge fund heavies with his hand out, bringing assurances that any nasty comments were just campaign necessities.

I will vote for Mr. Obama this November because the alternative is far worse. Many, perhaps most progressives like myself, will vote thus for the same reason.

But if Mr. Obama actually manages to lose this coming November, something that should have been as politically impossible as an FDR defeat in November 1932, I’ll know the reason why — Wall Street, and his astonishingly foolish behavior toward The Street from both the political and economic perspectives.

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To learn more about a quirky novel, a very unusual book of verse, and some Goldman Sachs satires from the author of this piece, hit one of these icons:

Fifteen Feet Beneath Manhattan, art by Kay Wood ©2012           A Dyspeptic's Guide To Contemporary American Politics (In Verse) ©2012         The Chronicles Of Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: Volume 1 by Michael Silverstien