Obama and Wall Street

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Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times reports that President Obama is trying to woo back Wall Street donors who supported him in 2008 but have since turned against him:

Last month, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, traveled to New York for back-to-back meetings with Wall Street donors, ending at the home of Marc Lasry, a prominent hedge fund manager, to court donors close to Mr. Obama’s onetime rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton. And Mr. Obama will return to New York this month to dine with bankers, hedge fund executives and private equity investors at the Upper East Side restaurant Daniel.

“The first goal was to get recognition that the administration has led the economy from an unimaginably difficult place to where we are today,” said Blair W. Effron, an investment banker closely involved in Mr. Obama’s fund-raising efforts. “Now the second goal is to turn that into support.”

It’s hard not to have dueling reactions to this. On the one hand, I pretty much want to retch at the idea of Obama begging Wall Street for alms once again. Wall Street! On the other hand, Effron has a point: are Wall Street tycoons really so damn thin skinned that they’re letting the odd public reference to “fat cats” overwhelm the fact that Obama bailed them out with virtually no strings attached; proposed about the weakest set of financial reforms he could get away with; relentlessly batted away the hardline suggestions of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing; and has presided over a phenomenal rebirth of Wall Street profits over the past two years? Seriously?

Well, yes. After all, even weak financial reforms are more annoying than no financial reforms, which is what Republicans are offering — along with soothing reassurances that Wall Street’s masters of the universe had nothing to do with the financial crisis, no matter what that mean Mr. Obama keeps saying. Plus Obama also wants to raise their personal income tax rate by 4.6 percentage points. That’s unforgivable.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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