Wall Street bought the political process on the cheap

  • Published on October 19th, 2011

Copyright © 2011. Universal Uclick, All rights reserved.Politico has a story up about how unhappy big-money donors on Wall Street are with President Obama. He’s taking the side of the smelly Occupy Wall Streeters and saying mean things about his nice, responsible banker friends! They may just close their checkbooks and stay home, or worse, give all their money to Mitt.

But as I read the article, it struck me that Politico had totally missed the real story here – that these whiney Wallstreeters had purchased themselves a government for a spectacularly tiny sum.

Goldman Sachs employees – who contributed more than $1 million to Obama in the 2008 election cycle — are now spending more on Romney than Obama, according to CRP. Goldman Sachs employees, along with their spouses, have contributed $352,200 to Romney. That’s more than seven times the $49,125 they’ve given to Obama.

The Obama campaign raised something like $750 million dollars. Goldman Sacks contributed a miserable $1 million of that.

In exchange they got god-only-know-how-many billions in bailout cash, plus a free pass from the Justice Department which ought to be investigating/indicting the hell out of them. What a bargain!

But $49,135? Members of the Wall Street elite take home more than that in a day.  It’s estimated that Goldman’s total compensation lay-out last year (salaries +bonuses) was $15.8 billion. $1 million is… what percent of that? Less than a hundredth of a percent. That’s how much they were willing to commit to Obama.

The entire banking industry contributed $43 million to Obama in 2008. Again, that may seem like a lot to you or me, but that’s the difference between the campaign taking in $750 million and… $707 million. Still a blows-your-socks-off record haul. Would he have even noticed the difference?

Overall, the commercial banking industry spent roughly the same amount in the 2008 election cycle to back congressional Republicans and Democrats, spending about $14.9 million and $14.2 million on the parties… But that balance tipped heavily to the GOP’s favor in the 2010 cycle, and congressional Democrats are now trailing far behind Republicans so far in the 2012 cycle when it comes to Wall Street support.

Still chump change. It appears that the amount of money it takes to buy off hundreds of politicians… is less than a lot of individual guys on the street take home in a year.

In exchange they got, by some estimates, upwards of $10 trillion dollars in benefits (that is trillion with a T).

And when Obama made rumblings about, you know, putting some regulations in place so that the smart boys up there in the towers wouldn’t blow up the entire system again, they turned on him like a dog. In 2010 they practically hurled money at his opponents – the ones calling him a satan-worshiping socialist Muslim tyrant imposter.

And now they’re whining that he’s turning on them?

What I don’t understand is why he still stands by them at all.

(Cartoon by Tom Toles,  Copyright © 2011. Universal Uclick, All rights reserved.)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
  • Fiora

    Jeremy, you know I love you and Lyra and appreciate your take on things. But it’s just disingenious to only talk about what a company like Goldmann-Sachs donated to Democratic candidates without even mentioning what they donated to Republican candidates. The reality is that there is NO candidate who could successfully run for President in this country without huge amounts of donated corporate cash because we have not created a system that adequately publicly funds such candidates. An even more obvious reality that posts such as yours blow smoke on is that ALL large corporate contributors will hedge their bets by donating to BOTH major party candidates, and often to third party candidates as well, if they like the “spoiler effect” generated by that candidate, but the amounts are vastly different. If a company donated what is for them “chump change” of a million to the Democratic candidate, it’s likely they donated 10 or more times that to the Republican. And no, that DIDN’T buy them a bunch of bailout money from the Democratic president who was actually sworn into office AFTER the bailouts were created and voted on by Congress. Obama didn’t have a choice about the bailouts. And what’s more, at the time, almost all in Congress and almost all economists felt it was a necessary emergency move. What should have happened and didn’t, and again, this wasn’t something Obama had any control over legally, was there should have been strict regulations about how that money could be used. It was unconscionable what did happen with that money, but we can’t blame Obama.

    • Babette Hogan

      @Flora – well said.