Wall Street: The Candidate’s Friend

  • submit to reddit

President Obama may talk a good populist game and even kick some corporate butt when he goes on the attack against Wall Street “fat cats.” Yet he still enjoys the company of bankers — see our “On Democracy” essay on the subject — and for all their grumbling about his policies, the investment community is coming up with significant cash for his re-election; the kind of change they believe in.

Justin Elliott at Salon.com takes a look at 357 “elite bundlers” — people who in the second and third quarters of 2011 raised money from friends and colleagues and gave it to the Democratic National Committee and Obama campaign in big chunks — $50,000 or more from each bundler. “The second most represented industry after law was the securities and investment industry,” Elliott writes. “The 62 bundlers who work in that industry have raised at least $9.4 million for Obama and the DNC. That ‘at least’ is significant because the Obama campaign specifies only a dollar range in its disclosures, with the top category being “$500,000+.” So the real aggregate figure may be considerably higher. Among these bundlers are employees of big-name firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citigroup.”

The data comes from the Center for Responsive Politics and you can see the complete list here. Printed out, it runs to eight pages of very small type. And we should add that so far, the Obama campaign is the only one to have voluntarily released the names of these contributors.

Meanwhile, the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation has a press release headlined, “Political Contributions from Financial Sector Increased 700% since 1990,”which links to this analysis. “Wealthy financial sector donors gave $178.2 million in political contributions in 2010, more than ten times what they gave 20 years ago,” they report (when you adjust for inflation, that’s 700 percent). “More than any other industry, individuals from the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector, particularly those in securities and investments, are the key drivers of the overall growth of elite donors, or what Sunlight calls the political one percent of the one percent.”

Not surprisingly, the FIRE contributors cover their bets, consistently giving to candidates and committees from both parties on a fairly equal basis “though slightly favoring Republicans in most years.” So no wonder that on the one hand employees of Goldman Sachs can bundle donations for President Obama (and gave more to his 2008 campaign than employees of any other company) and on the other manage part of Mitt Romney’s investment portfolio — according to The Los Angeles Times, “A significant proportion of the Romney family fortune is parked with an elite division of Goldman that is open only to clients with more than $10 million to invest. Another chunk of the fortune is invested in Goldman-run hedge funds, which like all hedge funds are open only to millionaires.”

Is this a great country or what?

  • submit to reddit
  • David Eddy

    There is a big difference between the love of money and the use of money to provide the exchange of goods and services that lead to the Gross Domestic Product GDP.   Money is only a tool to get things accomplished and provide people viable lifestyles.  How money is spent is the critical criteria when providing funding for a quality Nation.   The Distribution of  Available Funds DAF is a critical function of social systems.  It can make or break a Nation. 

  • leftofcenter

    This proves my point. With one or two exceptions, politicians are terrified of pissing off the corporate campaign donors. How many times have you heard about bankers and CEO’s getting masisve bonuses for screwing up?

    The only way to get someone’s attention is to cut into their profit margin. That being said, not all but many people are too lazy to do that. The only other option in our current capitalist system is to try and outspend them. Now, how many average people can do that?

  • Anonymous

    From the first paragraph “…the kind of change they believe in.”  From the fourth paragraph “Wealthy financial sector donors gave $178.2 million in political contributions in 2010,…” it would be no surprise to me that $178.2 million is change to those folks.  Only wish I had that kind of change to put into the campaigns I support.

  • sandra longley

    time to get behind Robert Reichs’ idea for a constitutional amendment to negate the supreme courts Citizen United decision..no one can donate more than $100.00

  • Michael Cohen

    Of course their is hope but one has to understand what it takes.  Realization of a problem is not enough, Civil Rights for blacks didn’t markedly improve without social unrest riots … etc.  Until the elites feel threatened nothing is going to happen.

  • Pops 2nd

    I’m confused about something Mitt Romney said this week. He claimed he pays about 45-50% in taxes because his corporation pays 35% and he pays 14%. But a couple of weeks ago he thought that his corporation was a separate person. Is he now claiming to be two people for tax purposes? Does he claim his corporation as a dependent or does the corporation claim him?

  • Aengus

    Like a wonderful dream, it’s beautiful, but it isn’t going to happen.

  • Msseelam

    Great point

  • Anonymous

    I would think he’d prefer to remain unaccountable for the actions of his alter ego: Bain Capital.

  • Anonymous

    It may happen; but not quickly or soon.
    Oligarchs do not hesitate to alter rules in the course of a game.

  • Anonymous

    Guns’ value as a tool depends on their predominate use. 
    Just as guns are now rarely used to harvest food from the wild,
    large masses of money are rarely mobilized to uplift humanity.
    Sometimes life quality is improved when we simplify and downsize our tools.
    Hold up some money and ask yourself how much your love is rooted in utility and how much in ego. Aren’t you a counselor?
    How would you feel about capping wealth and income?

  • Anonymous

    GDP is a false and misleading statistic.

  • David Robinson

    would you consider exploring the path outlined by Scott Russell Sanders in “orion” magazine -aug. 2011-pp58–specifically the summary three paragraphs?

  • D. Ray

    After watching your Banking series and understanding deregulation as the root of collapse, there was more unbridled and disastrous deregulation in the 90s:1. Deregulation of Banks – Banks crashed in 2008 just like
    1929,  ten years after Glass Steagall was repealed.2. Deregulation of
    Media – Allowed corporate takeover by Clear Channel causing rampant unemployment
    in radio because of consolidation similar to BAIN; allowed Fox to own numerous
    channels.3. Deregulation of Internet – Caused Constitutional copyright
    crisis and destroyed music industry by 50%, rampant unemployment in
    entertainment, created too big to fail tech monopoly corporations, and increased
    private information available to government surveillance like that provided by


    Regulation is the people’s only defense against corporations.

  • http://www.howwegotswindled.com/ E. Henry Schoenberger

    Considering: that Wall Street’s rapacious Greed has been totally unfettered  since Graham-Leach-Bliley got rid of Glass-Steagall and 1956 Bank Holding Co Act; that the SEC and the Fed have not enforced regulations which require adequate disclosure, to prevent the omission of significant information; and that Fed BHC regs do not allow complex securities to be issued or sold that are can not be explained well enough to be understood – Obama has naively turned to the very people that tanked our economy and so many lives now living in the shadows of cancelled lives. (long sentence but the war against the middle class began in earnest over 30 years ago.)

    So to take money from the primary culprits, notwithstanding that Congress has deregulated greed and devalued ethics, is a major conflict and hurdle to having Justice investigate, indict and then prosecute.  Further it is outrageous to allow the SEC, that has long been an enabler of Wall Street, and BHCs sue the banks (not the ones that were investment banks prior to Sept 08, and then settle – is sort of like letting a member of the Manson family sue Manson and then negotiate a settlement.  Again due to the money from the Street. $28 billion is peanuts.

    My new book, written from 4 decades of personal experience in the securities business and without the stain of having recommended structured financial “innovation” leveraged to the hilt, only real estate private placements, exposes all the culprits and the controlling issues which add up to the whole truth.  Beginning with the return to Social Darwinism which has metastasized into Financial Darwinism – and traveling along a path composed of Political parties, Wall Street, Trojan Mega Banks, failed regulators with the specific regulations which were violated – so laws were broken, rating agency fraud, financial engineering which provided the fantasy of risk measurement, propoganda to help Wall Street enlist support from the victims being fleeced, failures of the 4th Estate to objectively create informed public opinion – or inform them selves and ending with IRS failing to enforce Section 162 to curb excessive CEO compensation — How We Got Swindled by Wall Street Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 3o-Year War Against the American Dream, with a foreword from David Satterfield former business editor of the Miami Herald and 2 times Pulitzer Prize-winner – will better inform Americans who so badly need to be better informed.

    So I am particularly upset by all the money and all the conflicts because the connectivity and cover up is “worse than Watergate” yet where is the outrage today.  And the information has been piecemeal which does not allow the sum of the parts to add up.  Our Republic is in danger, and when someone as bright and seemingly well intentioned as our president appoints the cheerleaders for greed to posts as economic advisors and financial watchdogs – how can we expect  all the fatcats within our government to say no to the money or to go after the fattest of the cats.  http://www.howwegotswindled.com

    Bill Moyers is a great American and one of the most rigidly descerning and ethical members (ever) left  in the 4th Estate of Cronkite and Murrow, so i have taken the liberty of posting here – as a blogger on Huffington whose most vehemently objective and informative posts do not get up, although Dave Satterfield edits all my Huff pieces.  (Posting can be like a confessional into the unknown – for me and i hope Moyers reads my confession )