Why Does Barack Obama Love the Establishment So Much?

These are hopeful days. The four horsemen of the establishment look like they are leaving the White House. Peter Orszag, who apparently was the most conservative of them all (and who just lobbied for more tax cuts for the rich), has left his position as head of the Office of Management and Budget. Larry Summers is leaving his position as director of National Economic Council. Rahm Emanuel might be out by October. And Tim Geithner is also rumored to be leaving after the election.

There are hardly four Democrats in the whole country who were more pro-establishment, anti-change, pro-corporate power, pro-Wall Street than those four. I'm being literal. Bob Rubin might break into the top four, maybe Evan Bayh, maybe Harold Ford, Jr. But the four that are leaving the White House are undoubtedly in the top ten most corporate friendly Democrats in the country.

So, that leads to the question of why did Obama pick them in the first place? Why did the guy who promised to change the whole system bring in the guys who are most wedded to the system? Why does Barack Obama love the establishment so much?

This is no longer an academic question. In the words of President Obama, I don't want to look backward, I want to look forward. This is the time for hope. So, all of these guys are leaving and I am perfectly happy to let bygones be bygones. The real question is -- who is going to replace them?

Unfortunately, so far the answers aren't good. Jacob Lew has been nominated to be the head of the OMB. During his Senate hearings he said this about deregulation:

"[T]he problems in the financial industry preceded deregulation ... [I] personally [don't] know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don't believe that deregulation was the proximate cause."

That's crazy. Saying deregulation was not the proximate cause of the economic crash is like saying if you jump out of a building gravity will not be the proximate cause of your death. I've had many Republicans on our show that have admitted deregulating the banks so they could take enormous risk was not a good idea. Lew's position is beyond Republican.

Some might think that Lew is motivated to take that position by his former (and possible future) employer, Citigroup. They paid him millions of dollars when he was an executive there, including a $950,000 bonus after Citigroup got bailed out by taxpayer money. But I don't think Lew is driven by personal greed (though I don't know the man, I'm just giving him the benefit of the doubt). I think he is the product of his context. He lives in the Washington/Wall Street bubble. And inside that bubble, everybody gets rich off of deregulation and it makes perfect sense to them.

So, why does Obama keep insisting on hiring within that bubble? Now, we hear that Summers replacement is likely to be a corporate executive because Obama feels he has been criticized for being anti-business. That is unreal. How easy is this guy to manipulate? Or does he want to be manipulated in that direction?

Who is calling Obama anti-business? The same Wall Street guys who robbed us of billions (some would argue trillions) and want to do it again. Why on God's green earth would you continue to listen to those guys?

Yes, they have some lackeys in the establishment press, too. I'm sure Mark Halperin would write a blistering article if Obama dared to pick an actual progressive to fill any of these positions. But my God man, why in the world would you give a damn what Mark Halperin and his DC buddies think?

You're losing the whole American population while trying to cater to these clowns. Get your head out of ... the DC/NY bubble. The rest of the country doesn't think you're too tough on business; they think you haven't done enough to help them -- the middle class.

So, I ask this as an earnest question -- why is Barack Obama obsessed with appeasing the establishment? Was he being completely disingenuous when he ran on change? How could he possibly have thought that Larry Summers or the corporate executive who might replace him would bring us real change?

Look, I ask all of this not to complain or because I am part of the so-called "professional left" but because it matters to the very important decisions he is about to make.

For example, if he picked Howard Dean to replace Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, we would all know we were going in the right direction. Not because Dean is a panacea, but because it would mean that Obama is getting serious about change and taking on the power establishment.

You know Dean would stand up for the middle class. You know all of the political pundits in DC would hate him. Now, does anyone think Obama has the courage to defy Washington conventional wisdom and appoint Dean? That's what I thought. Even if you love Obama with all of your heart, you know he'd never have the guts to pick Dean. That would make Washington and New York very angry with him. And he hates that. He has to be loved by those guys. They're the ones in his bubble.

I ask all of these questions because I am desperate to figure out how we can get President Obama to deliver on the change he promised so we can finally deliver for the middle class in this country instead of the wealthy and powerful that surround the president in Washington. What makes him tick? How can we get him to fall out of love with the establishment? How can we get him to have the courage to govern like he ran for office -- with passion and conviction to help all of us instead of the Washington power elite?

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks

Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Obama's Last Test

The final financial reform package has been dramatically watered down and is riddled with loopholes. But its supporters (and some critics) say that we shouldn't worry because it at least allows regulators to get tough on the financial industry later -- if they think it's necessary. That is actually true. It does have such provisions.

So, who those regulators are could not be more important. Right now, Tim Geithner is leading the charge to make sure the regulators are as weak and banker-friendly as possible -- as usual. So, he is fighting against Elizabeth Warren.

I don't write this to encourage the president to pick Warren as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That pick is the most obvious thing in the world -- if he cares to actually do consumer protection. Everybody on the planet knows this, and that's precisely why Geithner is fighting against her.

No, I write this to give you a way of knowing for yourself if this financial reform legislation has any chance of working or if it was a Democratic joke all along to pretend they're doing something while continuing to pocket corporate contributions.

Warren is not the only pivotal regulator. I think Gary Gensler at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is even more important. He's a reformed reformer. He used to work at Goldman Sachs and previously helped to deregulate the industry in the first place. But he has been one of the toughest voices for financial industry reform recently (see, redemption is possible for him and this administration). And his agency can regulate derivatives, stop fraud and limit speculation. That's more important than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which looks to protect consumers on a more micro level.

So, if in a year Elizabeth Warren and Gary Gensler are gone, then you know that it was all a sham. The industry won again and we never really had a chance. If they are still there and they're doing their job of protecting American consumers and taxpayers, then there is hope. We might just pull this economy out before the banks crash it again.

Of course, this is an over-generalization. And our fate is not bound up in just two people. I wouldn't want to put the same kind of faith in them that people did in Obama and hope that everything works out just fine. But they are important indicators. They give us a sense of which direction we're going to go.

The early signs are not good. The Obama administration is reaching out to the Business Roundtable as we speak to see how they can quietly loosen regulations on them again. The CEO of Citigroup says financial reform will not impact their derivative trading at all. And Elizabeth Warren is teetering on the edge as the tools of Wall Street attack her.

We can rally. There can be change. We can have hope. But it's all up to Obama. Which way is he going to go? Is he a smart tactician that's actually going to bring real change in subtle ways through strong regulators or does he think he can play the Washington game a little better and trick us into thinking he gave us real reform while gutting the regulators and protecting the status quo?

No more excuses about the wrong advisors. He can choose right now between good and bad advisors. And everyone knows who is actually trying to do real reform. What's it going to be? You'll know the character of the man by the people he chooses. And you'll also know the economic fate of our country.

Young Turks on You Tube

 

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks

Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Obama's Last Test

The final financial reform package has been dramatically watered down and is riddled with loopholes. But its supporters (and some critics) say that we shouldn't worry because it at least allows regulators to get tough on the financial industry later -- if they think it's necessary. That is actually true. It does have such provisions.

So, who those regulators are could not be more important. Right now, Tim Geithner is leading the charge to make sure the regulators are as weak and banker-friendly as possible -- as usual. So, he is fighting against Elizabeth Warren.

I don't write this to encourage the president to pick Warren as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That pick is the most obvious thing in the world -- if he cares to actually do consumer protection. Everybody on the planet knows this, and that's precisely why Geithner is fighting against her.

No, I write this to give you a way of knowing for yourself if this financial reform legislation has any chance of working or if it was a Democratic joke all along to pretend they're doing something while continuing to pocket corporate contributions.

Warren is not the only pivotal regulator. I think Gary Gensler at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is even more important. He's a reformed reformer. He used to work at Goldman Sachs and previously helped to deregulate the industry in the first place. But he has been one of the toughest voices for financial industry reform recently (see, redemption is possible for him and this administration). And his agency can regulate derivatives, stop fraud and limit speculation. That's more important than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which looks to protect consumers on a more micro level.

So, if in a year Elizabeth Warren and Gary Gensler are gone, then you know that it was all a sham. The industry won again and we never really had a chance. If they are still there and they're doing their job of protecting American consumers and taxpayers, then there is hope. We might just pull this economy out before the banks crash it again.

Of course, this is an over-generalization. And our fate is not bound up in just two people. I wouldn't want to put the same kind of faith in them that people did in Obama and hope that everything works out just fine. But they are important indicators. They give us a sense of which direction we're going to go.

The early signs are not good. The Obama administration is reaching out to the Business Roundtable as we speak to see how they can quietly loosen regulations on them again. The CEO of Citigroup says financial reform will not impact their derivative trading at all. And Elizabeth Warren is teetering on the edge as the tools of Wall Street attack her.

We can rally. There can be change. We can have hope. But it's all up to Obama. Which way is he going to go? Is he a smart tactician that's actually going to bring real change in subtle ways through strong regulators or does he think he can play the Washington game a little better and trick us into thinking he gave us real reform while gutting the regulators and protecting the status quo?

No more excuses about the wrong advisors. He can choose right now between good and bad advisors. And everyone knows who is actually trying to do real reform. What's it going to be? You'll know the character of the man by the people he chooses. And you'll also know the economic fate of our country.

Young Turks on You Tube

 

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks

Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Why Our Nobles Betray Us

As Robert the Bruce explains to Wallace in the movie, "They have much to lose." You see, those nobles profited from the status quo of that time. Wallace means to up end that status quo. It's naïve to think that they will help him because they love their country. Of course, they will work against him because they don't want to lose their status, power and riches. That status quo might suck for everyone else, but it's great for them.

And so it is with our nobles today. We keep expecting the politicians and the mainstream press to do the right thing. That is profoundly naive. Why is a television anchor making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year going to look to change the system? He loves the system. The system pays the bills.

That's even truer of our politicians. The status quo got them elected. The status quo will get them - and their staffers - great salaries when they retire and become lobbyists. They'd have to be crazy to change the system that put them up on top.

That's why change must come from outside the system. We keep waiting for the Obama administration to bring us the change they promised. What are we, children? The current system got Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, etc. where they are. They have gotten to the pinnacle of power by playing within that system. They've made millions in that system. That's why they have no intention of actually upending it. They just want to tweak it and do exactly what Obama said he wouldn't do if he got elected - play the Washington game just a little better.

This doesn't mean you give up all hope. There are some good guys in DC. I recently talked to a House staffer who said that Senator Franken's staff is excellent. The staff is so important because they are the ones who actually write the bills. I asked him why Franken's staff was better than the others. And he had a simple answer - they don't plan to work as lobbyists in DC when they're done serving in his office.

It's not just the honest senators that should give you hope. What should give you the most hope is that the motivations of people are actually quite simple. So, we can change the results by changing the incentives.

For example, if we pay the campaign expenses of politicians instead of letting the lobbyists pay them, then the politicians might actually work for us. If we ban the politicians and their staff from working as lobbyists, they might not have as much incentive to sell us out.

I know the people inside DC think that last proposal is absolute heresy. How would they get rich if they can't work as lobbyists? And that's precisely what the problem is. They're getting rich at our expense. We're crazy to allow this system to continue.

The nobles will never change it. This is how they got to where they are. This is how they maintain their power and salaries. We have to make them change it. And as William Wallace found out, you can only do that from the outside and by not listening to the establishment that has different (and almost exact opposite) motivations as you do.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks

Follow The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

Let's Name the Bankers and Make Them Famous

John McCain said during the campaign that he would stop wasteful spending in government by naming names and making people famous. Well, that's a pretty good idea. So, we've adopted it (call us bipartisan). Except we're going to apply it to the bankers who took our money.

Last week we led a protest at the Treasury Department to demand that they get our $13 billion back from Goldman Sachs for the AIG backdoor bailout (read about the reason for the protest here).

On the same day, a Congressional report came out saying basically that we were exactly right. The Congressional watchdogs said that not only should Goldman not have gotten paid a hundred percent of their bets by the American taxpayer but that doing so " undermin[ed] the basic tenets of capitalism" and had a "poisonous effect on the marketplace."

People came from all over the country to this protest. Someone took a 24 hour bus ride from Minnesota to join us at the protest. Others flew in from Wisconsin and Illinois. Someone also took a train from Minnesota (maybe Al Franken is energizing the state to get them so active). People drove in from Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, etc. Somebody even came in from Switzerland.

Sam Seder, RJ Eskow, Michael Shure and I all spoke at the event. We had great media coverage, fromMSNBC to Voice of America to Russia Today to the conservative website Townhall. Strong progressive organizations like Campaign for America's Future, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America all chipped in.

We had a great time and delivered a message. We also delivered a petition with over 5,000 signatures on it. Now, that petition is up to 6,000 signatures. You can add your own name to it here.

But it's time to take it to the next step. The DC protest was just the beginning. Now, we've started a wiki protest. We want your contributions, ideas and actions in getting the money back. People have already started to put up the names and pictures of all the people who work at Goldman Sachs on the website. We also have many of the addresses for their offices. But we need more info. Please help us build this wiki protest by going to this link and taking part.

In its first year, Wikipedia was actually run by experts in different fields. The scholars put up a grand total of 12 articles that year. When they opened it up to everyone to contribute, they had the world's largest encyclopedia by the end of the next year. We hope we can do the same here with our wiki protest. I am sure that all of you will come up with better ideas and more effective actions than we could on our own. This way we just might get our money back.

We just have one cardinal rule - nothing physical under any circumstances. We want to ask these people to give our money back but in a very civil and polite way. Anything else is unacceptable. Please go to their offices but don't go to their homes. No yelling, no crazy confrontations, just politely ask them to return the money.

Remember, they're real people, too. They're not some evil comic book character. They're simply acting on normal human instincts. There was great money to be made by duping our government and they took advantage. In fact, they were pretty smart to do it. It's not personal. We just want the money back and that's it.

One of my high school friends works at Goldman. He's a good guy but I put his name on the list. Why? It's not because I don't like him. It's because he made a smart bet with AIG, not with me or you. We had no business paying off that bet. That's not capitalism; that's not fair. As soon as we reverse that, then there is no further issue with Goldman. I don't dislike them; I just don't want to pay their bets with our money.

Lastly, remember what Tim Geithner said at the time and continues to say to this day. He said that if we hadn't paid Goldman and the other banks for the side bets they made with AIG that the whole world economy would have collapsed. Well, luckily we're not on the edge of disaster anymore. Goldman made $25 million a day - every day - last quarter. And that was the bare minimum. They made more than $100 million 60% of those days. They're not on the brink of extinction anymore. In fact, they're making record profits. That's a perfect time for them to return the American taxpayers' money.

This has to be an issue conservatives and liberals can agree on. So, everyone please join our wiki protestand let's figure out how to get that money back to its rightful owners - the American taxpayers.

Join Wiki Protest Here

Sign Goldman Petition Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks 
Follow The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads