Sweet!?! Obama accepts a pay day from Wall Street

UPDATE:  Former President Barack Obama announced Wednesday[5/3/17] that he and his wife, Michelle, are donating $2 million to summer jobs programs in Chicago. A sweet gift to their hometown Chicago.

After returning from well-deserved vacation,  former President Obama may really have struck a sour note. Only months after leaving office, he has joined the Wall Street big-speaking-fee club. For a $400,000 fee from Wall Street investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, Obama agreed to deliver a keynote speech at an annual health care conference the investment firm runs.paydayblues

In response to this news the longtime critic of the outsized influence big money plays in politics, Senator Elizabeth Warren, didn’t mince words. She said: “I was troubled by that. The influence of dollars on this place is what scares me. I think it ultimately threatens democracy.”

But it seems former press secretary Josh Earnest (a paid MSNBC contributor since this March) is quick to defend his former boss and was quite dismissive of any objections. Earnest recalled that Obama’s closeness to Wall Street had been brought up before, and it “didn’t in any way limit his ability to put in place the toughest reforms of Wall Street that we had seen in multiple generations.” I seem to remember many people thought President Obama and congressional reforms weren’t all that tough on Wall Street.

He will not be running again but the optics of the most well-known Democrat accepting sizable  speaking fees from a giant investment firm can’t be helpful in luring back blue-collar voterseven in the face of the ethically challenged Trump gang. And it’s an unfortunate footnote to the recent unity tour DNC Chairman Perez and failed presidential candidate  Senator Bernie Sanders just completed.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations against big banks, greed, and financial excess are now ancient history. The huge speaking fees from Wall Street banks Hillary Clinton  received over the years had a negative impact on her campaignSanders turned it into a major issue in the primary. But that too appears to be swirling down the memory hole. So, other than Senator Warren, which Democrats will speak-up now? But good for Senator Warrenthe smart money says she persists.

4 thoughts on “Sweet!?! Obama accepts a pay day from Wall Street

  1. Yes, it’s a lot of money; and yes, he’s speaking to the enemy. What good does it do to only speak to your friends? The reluctance of Democrats in general, and the left in particular, to show sustained and consistent support for a President and policies that are positive, but fail to deliver everything we want is proving to be a fatal flaw.

    Dodd-Frank and Obamacare have been decried by the right as anti-business and by the left as hopelessly inadequate. Neither is the reform we would have designed if we could run the zoo unilaterally. Yet the CFPB created by Dodd-Frank recovered $10.3 billion for the 99%. The guy that can’t shoot straight has already signed legislation that repeals a securities disclosure rule that was part of Dodd-Frank aimed at curbing corruption at energy and mining companies. With a flourish he signed an Executive Order asking the Department of Labor to repeal the upcoming rule that would have required financial advisors to put their clients’ interest first when investing their money, as opposed to choosing investments that would result in higher commissions for themselves.

    The Democratic primary and the general election were largely a referendum on the influence of Wall Street and which candidate was more closely aligned with the interests of the super-rich. Now after many progressives deserted our nominee, Trump has assembled a cadre of alligators for his swamp that draws heavily on Goldman Sachs alumni, and they have proposed an agenda that amends or repeals the Obama era reforms. We should be defending those reforms and not taking the first opportunity to throw our former President under the bus.

    I think it’s a plus that someone who actually understands health care and recognizes that it’s complex is speaking to the 1% about an issue that affects all of us. I’m not going to join the off key chorus taking a pot shot at his speaking fee or his venue.

    1. I’d bet as the former President,Obama would have been able to speak to Cantor Fitzgerald’s group for free had he offered to do so. But as you say $400,000 is lot of money and it sets his future speaking rate.
      And criticizing Obama and others accepting large Wall Street speaking fees doesn’t preclude defending Dodd-Frank banking reforms.

  2. Stephan Colbert on Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street payday: “Hillary wasn’t able to continue Obama’s legacy – but at least Obama was able to continue hers,” was his verdict, adding: “With that kind of money you could join Mar-a-Lago.”

    1. Another perspective from Trevor Noah, “I agree that the system must change, but it doesn’t change with Obama.. I’m sorry, no. The first black President must also be the first President to NOT take money after office? No, my friend. He can’t be the first of everything.”

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