Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street Speech By Zach Carter

Former President Barack Obama will receive $400,000 to speak at a health care conference organized by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald. It should not be a surprise. This unseemly and unnecessary cash-in fits a pattern of bad behavior involving the financial sector, one that spans Obama’s entire presidency. That governing failure convinced millions of his onetime supporters that the president and his party were not, in fact, playing for their team, and helped pave the way for President Donald Trump. Obama’s Wall Street payday will confirm for many what they have long suspected: that the Democratic Party is managed by out-of-touch elites who do not understand or care about the concerns of ordinary Americans. It’s hard to fault those who come to this conclusion.

Obama refused to prosecute the rampant fraud behind the 2008 Wall Street collapse, despite inking multibillion-dollar settlement after multibillion-dollar settlement with major firms over misconduct ranging from foreclosure fraud to rigging energy markets to tax evasion. In some cases, big banks even pleaded guilty to felonies, but Obama’s Justice Department allowed actual human bankers to ride into the sunset. Early in his presidency, Obama vowed to spend up to $100 billion to help struggling families avert foreclosure. Instead, the administration converted the relief plan into a slush fund for big banks, as top traders at bailed-out firms were allowed to collect six-figure bonuses on the taxpayers’ dime.

Nothing forced Obama to govern this way. Had he truly believed that prosecuting bankers for obvious criminal fraud would cause an economic collapse, Obama would, presumably, have tried to radically reshape the financial sector. He did not. His administration’s finance-friendly policies damaged the economic recovery and generated a new cohort of Trump voters. As Nate Cohn of The New York Times has demonstrated, nearly one-fourth of Obama’s white working-class supporters in 2012 flipped for Trump in 2016. Racism and misogyny were surely part of Trump’s appeal, but not all two-time Obama voters turned to Trump out of bigotry alone.

It’s easier for Democrats to denounce Trump supporters as morally unworthy individuals than to consider whether governing failures in the Obama era contributed to Trump’s popularity.. read more: