The infamous James Carville quote, “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find,” seems more applicable to official Washington than the much-maligned Paula Jones.
Ben White at Politico (hat tip Paul Tioxon) provided an update on the revolving door, Wall Street edition. It’s so mind-numbingly common for a government figure to land a job with some Big Financial Firm You Heard Of that it’s hard to keep track. Most of us notice only the really high profile examples, such as former SEC chairman Mary Shapiro taking a board seat at financial-services heavyweight General Electric.
But White tells us that a shift is underway. Major banks have intensified their search for, um, talent, as in the Washington DC insider kind. The reason for their fondness for this type is, natch, an even keener interest than before in making sure that no regulation that could interfere with their imperial right to profit goes anywhere. And it appears this change in degree is a change of kind.
Two of the biggest blue-chip firms in the industry, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, will soon have top-level executives with the ear of the CEO who once occupied senior jobs in the White House and the U.S. Treasury. Other banks including Citigroup, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase also have staffed up with former political and regulatory officials…
A very short list of other top political operatives now working in and around Wall Street includes: Ed Skyler, former deputy New York City mayor for operations, who is now executive vice president for global public affairs at Citigroup; Calvin Mitchell, who ran press operations for Geithner at the New York Federal Reserve and is now global co-head of corporate communications at Credit Suisse; Jennifer Zuccarelli, formerly of the Paulson Treasury department and Mark Kornblau, a veteran of multiple Democratic presidential campaigns, who both now have senior roles at JPMorgan Chase. Andrew Williams, a former Geithner spokesman, now works for Siewert at Goldman.
And there are many more.
Even with financial firms having moderated their pay a smidge in the last year or so, the gap between major banks and government pay levels is cavernous. And in some positions, it is getting worse. For instance, the Republicans in the House have forced budget cuts on their members, which means markedly lower pay cuts for staffers. As one colleague groused, “The only people who can afford to work here are people who intend to cash out or ones with rich parents.”
Let’s look at just one member of the House, Mel Watt, a Representative from
Bank of America North Carolina. Watt has a history of having overly cozy relationships with the financial sector. Per Business Week in 2007:
Created in 1979, the Fannie Mae Foundation has given out more than $1 billion….Yet that generosity came with strings attached, say some former Fannie executives, grant recipients, and nonprofit advocates. In applications for funding, nonprofits were asked to list their political contacts in a section labeled “franchise value.” Those so-called affinity contacts–a former congressional aide, a lawmaker’s barber, a senator’s pastor–helped populate a database at Fannie that at one point had roughly 4,000 people with a direct connection to a member of Congress. “They were using charitable grants to strengthen, advance, and carry out the political and lobbying agenda,” says Fred Wertheimer, president and CEO of campaign finance watchdog Democracy 21. “It was the political equivalent of a quid pro quo.”….
The Fannie Mae Foundation has, according to tax filings, donated at least $600,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation since 1989, money used in part to sponsor events like the CBCF’s golf and tennis tournament. “They’ve been an important player,” says Representative Mel Watt (D-N.C.), the past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a current member of the CBCF. “[We] have worked closely with Fannie Mae or the foundation periodically to do things, sponsor housing fairs, [and] press Fannie Mae to provide support for housing initiatives in [members’] districts.”
Perhaps because Watt is a soft touch, some of his staffers have landed at major Wall Street firms. Sanders Adu. who was subcommittee staff director and chief counsel when Watt was chairman of the Financial Services Committee, now serves as a lobbyist for Wells Fargo. Joyce Brayboy, once Watt’s chief of staff, now lobbies for Goldman Sachs. Hilary West, formerly Watt’s legislative counsel, currently lobbies for JP Morgan.
And the influence game goes beyond formal lobbying. White again:
Regulatory reformers and some on Capitol Hill argue that banks have one thing in mind when making these hires: influencing the writing of Dodd-Frank rules and figuring out ways of beating back any new legislation, such as the recently introduced bill by Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to force banks to hold much more capital. The argument goes that while these former operatives are not registered lobbyists, they can nonetheless trade on prior relationships and inside knowledge to help banks stay ahead of policymakers.
“There is absolutely a value to banks hiring these people, and it is about connections and relationships and that opens the door to potentially inappropriate influence,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who worked as an investment banker at Goldman for more than a decade.
Wall Street tries to claim otherwise, with the Goldman chief of staff contending that because 53% of the legislators who were involved in Dodd Frank are gone, relationships are too transient to be of value. That may be true for formal lobbyists, were researchers have found that their billings are very much a function of whether their former boss is still in the saddle and how powerfully he is placed. But it’s unadulterated nonsense otherwise. Noam Schreiber just released a wonderfully salacious piece titled, “Get Rich or Deny Trying:
How to make millions off Obama,” on how former Administration operatives cashed in. Ex-regulators can cash in at Promontory, particularly now that it is flush with its ill-gotten gains from the Independent Foreclosure Review.
While it seems to be impossible to curb this sort of brazen influence-peddaling, remember that the railroads once had the Federal government even more in its sway than the banks do now, and their hold was eventually broken. For now, we can at least let the perps know we are onto them and keeping track of their movements.
Europeans are not quite so easily suckered as Americans. In the US, the post of Treasury Secretary normally goes to a Wall Street bankster. If that were done in Europe (certainly in the UK) there’d be riots.
bahahahaaa your government has never had a problem hiring/begging our rabid junkyard dogs to maul your citizens
Teddy said it was a hat, So I put it on. Now dad is saying, “where the heck’s the toilet plunger gone? shel silverstein
Their own insane momentum always does them in. (Minsky) Plungers and tophats. The bankster/”investor” control over the government is an American given so far, but they can’t control themselves. They should wish they had some government. The Railroads imploded because they overbuilt and none of them could be competitive. Sounds familiar. Money dwindled. Oh, no. There was no liquidity. In the South in the 1850s there were so many little lines it was impossible to find enough hitch hikers, let alone cattle or cotton. (History Channel doc.) It’s like Schauble said diplomatically on his trip to the UN with the irate delegation of EU banksters who were raped by fraud by our banksters: We are overbanked. So… does this mean there just aren’t enough people to feed the beast? What a shame. Hire more insiders, quick.
You just got a Goldman Sachs banker appointed to head the Bank of England…
At least we’ve got a lifelong academic…
Plus Geithner wasn’t a bankster (unless you call the NY Fed a Wall Street bank :> ). And Lew had a two-year managerial stint, not really considered a “trader” or “banker”…
Paulson was a nightmare of course.
Hey, we’re all screwed, don’t get high and mighty…
That’s a really derogatory headline and unfair to sex-workers. When a prostitute screws somebody, it’s a strictly consensual act. Not so for our revolving door crowd.
Very true; It should read “Wall Street Hiring More Traitors in need of Public Execution to Assure it Gets its Way”
You are a lonely and insignificant threat to the existing order if you are not committing treason in Washington.
Keep it up on Mel Watt and they’ll soon be calling you not only a Communist but a Racist too. Black toadying has a long and honorable tradition.
I have to say here–so what? We know this, particularly those who are familiar with how Washington works. We need to look at the whole picture of how the system actually operates and who operates it and stop dreaming that it can be reformed to benefit the people as a whole–it can’t be reformed. We can put on some condoms here and there, some band-aids, a little duct tape but the whole system works to benefit a class of oligarchs that are no longer friendly. One might argue that American oligarchs were not totally insensitive to the well-being of others when C. Wright Mills wrote his book perhaps because they lived among us and so on. But today they don’t live among us but in an international World-Wide movable feast of an Imperial Court that, as a whole (Davos and all that merde they pile up about ending poverty while pursuing policies that intentionally increase it) really only is interested in perpetuating a permanent hereditary aristocracy around the world. We need to understand this is not about isolated bits of corruption but that the world of organized crime, corporate oligarchs, celebrities has merged and that is the system. Not that a few congressmen are in the pay of some bank or this or that regulator works for the company they regulate and so on and so on.
The worst of it is, of course, that as far as the U.S. in concerned, most people are going along with things as they are since there is no organized opposition movement other than the Tea Party movement. The question we ought to be asking is what happened to the left? What happened to progressives and liberals? Why aren’t we organizing or thinking about radical alternatives instead of the usual liberal nonsense that has no chance of being implemented? There is no roadmap for reform, no scenario that I’ve seen articulated that will change anything substantial. This, that we see now, is the best we can do under the circumstances.
Well, first Progressives believed in the Income Tax and the Fed, next it was Administrative Law, the Union Movement, and Bretton Woods, then Education and Meritocracy, Foreign Aid and National Security and Containment, then Monetary Policy and Tax Reform and Trade Agreements. When you analyze what happened through the lens of history, it is clear that every belief was founded in fantasy and romance. While Progressives believed, insiders developed workmanlike looting strategies operating like jujitsu. Meanwhile, Big Labor simply ooozed into corruption and criminality, ultimately disappearing thanks to capital mobility and public apathy. All you really have left is Monopoly Capital, corruption and executive theft. The system is maintained on propaganda and public relations. No serious alternatives even exist. Sauve qui peut.
Good synopsis. I’d add that from 1918 thru 1970 we ran a terror campaign against “communists” and “fellow travelers” which muted the left and gave them few alternatives if they wanted to get a job and maybe eat once in a while. We are totalitarian. Artists, writers, directors, government employees, now teachers and firemen… on and on. But no banksters! For those decades our corporations also shared more of the gain, a tiny bit more, so everyone thought it was a democracy. Ha. Enter Ronnie and Maggie. Etc.
“The question we ought to be asking is what happened to the left? What happened to progressives and liberals?”
These are extremely important questions which really should become a focus of discussion as part of an effort to formulate a new vision for bringing us out of present financial/economic/political/cultural crisis.
Here are some additional questions:
Is the left assumption that the modern State is more just or rational than the modern market still valid?
Is the liberal assumption that the foundation for a just society is corporate power rightly regulated with state power or competently counterbalanced by organized labor still a political possibility?
Is our modern nation-state the most appropriate vessel to nurture community?
Should we be seeking total redemption through political action?
Did the New Left of the 1960s self-destruct into Marxism-Leninism?
Would populism always end-up succumbing to the imperatives of transnational capital if a community’s cultural and political unity had not already been destroyed?
Is successful manipulation of human consciousness by the Market dependent on a prior cultural disintegration partially caused by the historical evolution of the nation-state?
Is accelerating alienation and anomie literally driving us crazy?
“Is the left assumption that the modern State is more just or rational than the modern market still valid?”
I think at this point both are so insane, I want to lock them in a looney bin forever and throw away the key for all time.
Great post! How do we start talking about the failure of the left? Usually no one wants to talk about it or face the enormous divisions and contradictions we face–rather most talk about the absurdities of the right and so on. The main issue I have with the left from radicals to liberals is that I believe there is an inability and unwillingness to confront the truth and accept the obvious.
“remember that the railroads once had the Federal government even more in its sway than the banks do now, and their hold was eventually broken”
I’m not entirely clear about the history, but my best guess is that in WW I, the government was able to take control of transportation and was able to use that power to break the political power of the railroads. Patriotism trumped railroad interests.
Today it would be a different story. Any kind of significant war would be a new way for our kleptocrats to take charge of the government and economy. Today, they would start their own war.
The way I see the history of regulated railroad development is that by the 1880s the idea that economic life should be organized by specific state governments and local and regional communities within the Union had given way to the idea that the economy should operate as a supposed free market under a more powerful National State that established ground rules for competition.
This market-enforcing policy/and eventual revolving door paradigm was inherent within the act to regulate interstate commerce and the railroads. The ICC’s regulatory framework was then extended to other sectors of the economy through the Federal Reserve Board (1913) Federal Trade Commission (1914), Federal Power Commission (1930) Securities and Exchange Commission (1934) Federal Communications Commission (1934) and the National Labor Relations Board (1935).
The ICC was an important foundation for the revolving door—which illustrates the key role both Big Capital and Big State have historically played in creating our present form of corruption.
I rember reading of the ICC’s founding,I would have to look up the quote’s,but a powerful industrialist of the time wanted to squash the legislation before it passed.But the representative whose bill it was ensured him of the wiseness of having a facade of a regulatory structure,to calm the public outrage wheneve an “issue’ arises.He said that if there was no regulatory structure,the people would blame the owners whenever they were mad.But with the interstate commerce commission in place they would make the people feel as if something was being done on their behalf.And this legislator assured the industrialist that nothing meaningful would happen to his business.and in the end it would help him.
This has been the model ever since.
There is no door to revolve. There is a single political class.
Washington has been openly admiring the Chinese socio-economic system lately. We already have a one-party system in all but name. Bring on the censorship and eminent domain abuse!
While I still can:
Tienanmen square was a massacre, Taiwan is a country, Tibet should be independent, Faulan Gong is weird but harmless, Cheney shot his friend in the face, there were no WMDs in Iraq nor was there an Al-Quiada connection, drone strikes are war crimes, waterboarding is torture.
Please, Cheney didn’t shoot his friend in the face – he winged him. It was a sporting situation. The idea of shooting oligarchs on the wing should prove increasingly popular among plebes as the years go by. Cheney had it right, his manners were a little off though.
My mistake. Obviously, they weren’t friends.
“While it seems to be impossible to curb this sort of brazen influence-peddaling, remember that the railroads once had the Federal government even more in its sway than the banks do now, and their hold was eventually broken.”
Thank you for that encouragement. There is still hope that the banksters’ stranglehold will eventually be broken.
There’s that word again. Hope. When one relies on just “Hoping” things happen your way you will surely be disapointed. One must make that “hope” happen through action.
When you are young you “Hope” the object of your affection feels the same. NO! You are going to put your best forward to convince her. Young man “Hopes” he gets that job. NO! He must be educated and trained to be chosen above others. The U.S. goes through 8 long yrs. of lies and deceit and then “Hopes” the new guy is better because he said he offers “Hope” and “Change” NO! You hold that individuals feet to the fire. Hope w/out action will get you just what we have now. NO HOPE!
That must be another Theoclassical Commanment. Public servers shall comply with their transient occupations until Mr. Market decides their “knowledge” will better be used directly by the Rulers/Owners Of The World.
I wish the “office holder as prostitute” trope would be deprecated. It’s insulting to prostitutes.
It’s true. The prostitute sells his or her own body, but these clowns are selling yours and mine. They’re pimps, not prostitutes.
Yes. In future commentary we should use this protocol: “pimp” for any person who goes from corporate America into government or vice-versa.
Any government office holder that pleasures the big swinging dicks of the Wall Street Mafia IS a whore. It’s a consensual act of corruption.
How about “greedy gross perverts”? I think it fits better, even, than “pimp.”
So everyone on this site seems to be content to make witty comments, whilst sitting on their fat duffs and doing nothing. Chatty morons.
Nobody forces you to read/post here.
I made really tasty burgers, and then prayed to the Mother Of God for pie in the sky for desert. That’s something. And, I didn’t sit the whole time.
Jamie is that You?… You despise yourself in secret, even – no, especially – when you stand on your dignity; and since you despise yourself, you are unable to respect your friends. You can’t bring yourself to believe that anyone you have sat at a table with, or shared a house with, is capable of great achievement. That is why all great men have been solitary. It is hard to think in your company, little man. One can only think ‘about’ you, or ‘for your benefit’, not ‘with’ you, for you stifle all big, generous ideas. ~Listen, Little Man
Lee Fang at The Nation also wrote a couple pieces recently that touched on this topic:
There’s also a book that should be on everyone’s “to read” list: This Town by NYT’s Mark Leibovich — http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399161308,00.html coming out this summer.
Any other must-reads on the revolving door topic (Lessig, Bartels come to mind, also Abrahamof’s Capitol Punishment) in DC? And the corruption or rampant ethical violations present in money poisoning our system? These anecdotes like Liz Fowler and others who are such obvious corporate plants into our political system who exert undo influence on behalf of their corporate owners and proceed to return after leveraging public service positions for influence and career rewards.
For any change to happen, first there has to be a lot of talk, with lucid visualization of failing social mechanisms and viable alternatives. To that end, both academic studies and blogs are useful; they’re not a waste, not to be despised.
To finally get social change, there will materialize a creditable threat of some form to elites, also. There will be legal or revolutionary pressure, also.
When elites are sufficiently threatened by another power, they will move to justify themselves by picking a well articulated “morally acceptable” solution because such a choice will be more predicatable than chaos.
We might talk sometime about the different forms of raw power to apply, but we should never give up the exchange of ideas and thoughts.
This topic is certainly nothing new.But I like to see updates.For the revolving door is always turning and the names are always being added to the list.
Can anyone doubt that one part of the reason nothing good happens in context of “the gov’t of the people,by the people,for the people”,is because of exactly the “people” who matter.And as someone on the outside, that ain’t me…or you.
The subject is “conflicts of interest”.
All these people have a confict of interest with what is good for the country at large as opposed to the intrest of their careers,kids careers, and all their bank accounts.Their bread is buttered, by them,not us….no duh,right.
aside from the fact the founders were the first industrial class who formed this nation and gov’t to expand their intrests, this is what the model is.After all washington was a land speculator,who was enriched by there being a government to protect his claims.The virginia dynasty preceded the country.
This was a traditional view of our republic.The wealthy class was to rule the republic.This was later seen in things that led our country in a cultural/political sense like the council on foreign relations.These were formulated to be a circle of helpers, to guide the country as leaders,voices,votes,etc.to what an “establishment”, decided(democratically amongst themselves),was best for the establishment.they ,being elitists,believe what is good for them, is good for everyone ,eventually.this inbred type of thinking has since devolved into all these foundations,think tanks,”grassroots/astroturf”organizations and movements.All top down.The propaganda machine feeds their crap to everyone every day,24/7/365.
While these new lists of “helpers”, in the regulatory sense are something to see… I still can’t help think the “old” ones show something too…
look at this, and see where the infiltration of the gov’t appuratus is nothing new, and nothing that can be seperated from the whole.It is a culture,thick and deep.It is a mindset,where group think predominates.neocon/neoliberal,left,right,business,market,media,academia,etc…
The Job Growth is fine but more than 11 million work seekers cannot find a job.
There is no growth in manufacturing. Misguided tax and spending policies As the sequester cuts are just beginning. The only good news is Housing is up, measures to control inflation by the Fed and stock market rise.
Some Republicans believe reducing government spending is the key to economic stimulation.
The CBO projects Sequester will lose 700,000 jobs. The Republicans have lost the popular vote in five
of six presidential elections. The GOP is represented in Congress by conservative,, whites meaning a minority constituent. The Koch 50 in the House have been a disaster with their cut government cut taxes and policy of fight everything offered by the President.
The House is a divided mess out of control by Republican leadership.
Hello everybody, I be familiar with YouTube video includes less bytes of memory due to that its quality is awful, except this YouTube video has enormous picture features.
This post is briefly quoted and shown on Bill Moyer’s Journal around the 45 minute mark. Your title gets a chuckle. FYI