A Message to OWS: Follow the Money

The President has been providing moral support for the OWS protesters during his recent appearances.  How genuine is this support? One might take a clue from the Watergate era’s deep throat and “follow the money.” Thanks to a piece in today’s WaPo, this is not a difficult task. As Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam report:

Obama has brought in more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data….

Obama has raised a total of $15.6 million from employees in the industry, according to the Post analysis. Nearly $12 million of that went to the DNC, the analysis shows.

There are multiple ways of interpreting this. It could be the case that the financial community is simply hedging; even if they would prefer a Republican president, they will put some money down on the incumbent to ensure ongoing access.  But it may also be the case that they are relatively pleased with the return on their investments thus far. After all, things might have been far worse for the industry than Dodd-Frank. Yes, new regulatory legislation was passed, but without the kind of restrictions that Paul Volcker had demanded. Yes, there were verbal assaults on levels of compensation, but in the end, there were no restrictions and nothing more than a plea for voluntary restraint. Yes, there was a new financial consumer product safety unit created, but it was buried in the Fed–an agency that represents the industry–and Elizabeth Warren was thrown under the bus.

There has been a massive disjunction between the President’s rhetoric, on the one hand, and his public policies and fundraising activities on the other As one banking exec who raises funds for Obama noted in the piece, reports of dissatisfaction “are exaggerated and overblown.”  As for the rhetoric: “it probably helps from a political perspective if he’s not seen as a Wall Street guy.”

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