Author Archives: Matt Stoller

About Matt Stoller

From 2011-2012, Matt was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

Walmart, the Most Powerful Company in the World, Admits that Protests and Strikes Lead to Wage Increases

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can follow him at

For the first time ever, a strike is taking place in America aimed at the most powerful company in the economy: Walmart.

The possible strike could be very significant, because the target of the strike is the most important driver of the race to the bottom economy


Did Obama Blame the Financial Crisis on Budget Deficits?

This was a very strange part of the debate last night.

I would just say this to the American people. If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for, $7 trillion — just to give you a sense, over 10 years, that’s more than our entire defense budget — and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.

But I think math, common sense, and our history shows us that’s not a recipe for job growth. Look, we’ve tried this. We’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003, and we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years, we ended up moving from surplus to deficits, and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.


Corporate CEOs Unveil Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Entitlements and Endless Fracking

In July, I pointed out that Obama’s second term agenda was to cut Medicare, Social Security, and/or Medicaid. And here comes the cavalry to make that a reality. This passage is from Politico’s Morning Money, which is a newsletter that spans the nexus between financial services lobbyists in DC and the financial sector in New […]


Post-Debate Analysis: The Media Can Now Get the Electoral Horse Race It Wants

by Matt Stoller (

Let me just start by saying I hate horse race electoral analysis, because it’s bullshit. Not just meaningless, it’s frequently done by analysts who are on the payroll in one way or another of Wall Street or telecoms or pharma or whoever. More than that, the data is terrible. Despite the vaunted social scientists who claim, essentially, that elections can be manipulated through exquisitely crafted micro-targeting, we just don’t know that much about how voters behave. And more than that, politicians and pollsters don’t want to know. In 2008, it was obvious that foreclosures were going to have a massive impact on the electoral landscape. From 2008-2011, I counted one, yes, just one, paper looking at this problem. Tom Ferguson and Jie Chen showed that housing price declines were the main reason for Scott Brown’s capture of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. The only other study I’ve seen took place this year, showing that 60% of Milwaukee’s black voters from 2008 have disappeared.

You can’t run a control America in which an economic crisis happened, and a non-control America in which one didn’t happen. So you can’t know what kind of impact the financial crisis and foreclosure crisis have had on voters, until after the election. But the fact that there is almost no analysis of the foreclosure crisis in the electoral context shows that political elites just don’t want to know what’s really going on. Field people, who are in charge of door knocking, know exactly how bad it is, because they know that if you can’t find your voters, you can’t get them to the polls. But if this were acknowledged, then the foreclosure crisis would have to be acknowledged, and then the banking oligarchs would have to be acknowledged. Better to run shitty campaigns based on poor data promoted dishonestly by hacks getting speaking fees from various trade associations. So recognize, first of all, that nearly all the prognostication you’re hearing on TV and radio, which is done by an intentionally ignorant professional class who just wants their team to win. It’s Jeff Connaughton’s “blob”, sliming its way through our broadcast media infrastructure.

That said, here’s my horse race electoral analysis!


Jeff Connaughton: Why Romney Should Attack One of Obama’s Greatest Political Vulnerabilities

By Jeff Connaughton. Connaughton was the chief of staff to Senator Ted Kaufman during the financial reform fight in 2009-2010. He is the author of the new book The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins. Connaughton was a special assistant to Senator Joe Biden, a lawyer in the Clinton White House, and a co-founder of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, one of DC’s premier lobbying firms. He’s now retired from politics and lives in Savannah, Georgia. Cross-posted from

Why has President Obama so far avoided responsibility for one of the most notorious failures of his administration, deciding not to pursue potential Wall Street crimes? Because Obama’s negative ads – and Mitt Romney’s own foibles — have successfully defined Romney as the candidate for the 1 percent. A recent Esquire/Yahoo! News poll shows that 58 percent think Romney would pursue policies that favor the wealthy, while just 23 percent say the same about Obama.

In reality, the willful failure of the Obama administration to investigate Wall Street executives is the political issue that should most frighten the Obama campaign – and I have little doubt it was the prime motivation for the unusual timing of the filing yesterday of a case against JPMorgan/Bear Stearns by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Ignoring potential criminal wrongdoing by his largest 2008 campaign donors discredits the Obama message across the board: He hasn’t always fought the 1% on behalf of the 99%, and he’s the main reason Wall Street plays by different rules than Main Street. If an already dispirited Obama base – those who by the millions originally sympathized with the anger that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement – were constantly reminded by the Romney campaign of this odious Obama failure, some of them might stay home in November. And it might be a tipping point for independents. A recent Labaton Sucharow survey found that 61% of Americans will significantly factor a candidate’s commitment to rooting out corporate wrongdoing in their voting decision in November.


Bill Black: Ryan Talks Jobs and Exposes the Lies about the 47%

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives.

This Monday, I posted an article entitled:  “Let’s test Romney’s claims about the 47% by offering the unemployed jobs.”

The article explained that Romney, Ryan, and Charles Murray claim that 47% of Americans receive governmental assistance because they are morally defective and shiftless.  It goes through why Romney and Ryan know that they are lying when they use the 47% figure to slander Americans as refusing to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” and as failing to pay taxes.  The article points out the obvious – the vast majority of the 47% cannot work because they are (1) minor children, (2) the profoundly disabled and sick, and (3) the elderly.  The article reminds readers that the disabled (except when they were profoundly disabled even as children) and the elderly had typically borne substantial federal, state, and local taxes, often for over forty years.  Romney and Ryan cannot possibly be claiming that the members of these three groups refuse to take personal responsibility.  (There is also the small fact that the elderly frequently vote for Republicans, so Romney and Ryan are slandering their own voters.)


Attack of the Blob: How Professional Democrats and Professional Republicans Ran America Into the Ground

There’s a slate of important books coming out by reformers this year on what it was like to fight, and lose, for better policy during the financial reform fight. Neil Barofsky talked about facing the administration and Wall Street in Bailout, Sheila Bair has written about her experience at the FDIC, and now former Senate chief of staff for reform Senate Ted Kaufman, Jeff Connaughton, has provided his own memoir. Connaughton is not a rube, and doesn’t pretend to be shocked by DC corruption. His whole career is an anomaly, an idealist turned corporate super-lobbyist in the 1990s turned unlikely reformer in 2009. As such, he is uniquely positioned to describe how our political leaders, and which political leaders, think and act.

One anecdote in his new book Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins really gets at when the failsafe mechanisms for our financial system were in the midst of collapsing. The crisis of 2008 was when the dam broke, but the actual structural weaknesses appeared long before, in the 1970s, and accelerated in the 1990s. Connaughton was a player in [both] the period of accelerating weakness, in the 1990s, and in the collapse itself.


Bill Black: Robert J. Samuelson tries to create a moral panic about deficits

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives.

The Washington Post leads the pack when it comes to generating what scientists term a “moral panic” about budget deficits.  As part of that effort they generated the series of myths that Paul Ryan was “serious,” “courageous,” and “expert” about “solving” the “deficit crisis.”  The newspaper’s theme is that anyone who doesn’t fall for their effort to create a moral panic is not “serious” and should be ignored.  The paper runs a column by Robert J. Samuelson that is devoted to generating a moral panic about the deficit.  Like Ryan, his central targets are imposing austerity and cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.


How Coal Brought Us Democracy, and Oil Ended It: Lessons from the New Book “Carbon Democracy”

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can follow him at

Long before politicians mewled helplessly about the power of “Big Oil”, carbon-based fuels were shaping our very political, legal, intellectual, and physical structures.