Obama's Chief of Corporate Cronyism

I feared presidential candidate Obama was a faux populist. He seemed too slick, too careful with his words, and too eager to cozy up with corporations.

In June 2008, Obama confirmed my worst fears by voting to grant telecoms retroactive immunity for illegally spying on Americans in America. Obama would be — at best — another excellent Republican president, like Bill Clinton before him.

My heart sank even further when Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Rahm epitomizes the right wing of the Democratic Party which gleefully sells out traditional Democratic interests in exchange for corporate campaign contributions and serving wealthy corporations. These “Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)” praise themselves as “centrists” but are really corporatists. And corporations love handing them money whenever they need a vacation from Washington:

In his two-and-a-half-year stint as a banker, Mr. Emanuel… made $16.2 million, according to Congressional disclosures.

…The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance trends, notes that in the 2008 election cycle, he was the House’s No. 1 recipient of contributions from hedge funds, private equity firms and the broader securities and investment industry.

Yesterday’s news brings (yet another) example of why Rahm Emanuel is such a destructive Chief of Staff:

The White House, Federal Reserve and Wall Street lobbyists are kicking up their opposition to an amendment to audit the Fed as a Senate vote approaches, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lead sponsor of the measure, said on Monday….

In the spring of 2009, Sanders brought a similar amendment to the Senate floor and won 59 votes. Eight senators who voted against it then are now cosponsors of his current measure.

“I think momentum is with us. But I’ve gotta tell you, that on this amendment, you’re taking on all of Wall Street, you’re taking on the Fed, obviously, and unfortunately you seem to be taking on the White House, as well. And that’s a tough group to beat,” said Sanders.

He’s been trading calls, he said, with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.

Auditing the Fed — which has spent trillions of our dollars with zero transparency — is a no-brainer. I understand Wall Street opposing this, because they’ll be ashamed when Americans see how massively they were bailed out. But a Democratic White House fighting against transparency in how trillions of dollars were spent?!?! And a Democratic White House won in part by promising to bring transparency back to Washington?!?!

The Democratic administration of Barack Obama, who denounced his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the most secretive in history, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than the Republican did…

An Associated Press examination of 17 major agencies' handling of FOIA requests found denials 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50% from the 2008 fiscal year under Bush….

On March 16 to mark annual Sunshine Week, designed to promote openness in government, Obama applauded himself by issuing a statement:

“As Sunshine Week begins, I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever.”

Keeping Americans in the dark about how the Fed spent trillions of dollars to prop up failed banks seems to be SOP for this White House. That’s no surprise, given that Obama handed power to men like Emanuel, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner and — seemingly — fifty former top executives at Goldman Sachs.

Posted by James on Tuesday, May 04, 2010