Largo Democrats - December 2010
From the President’s Desk
Now that the frenetic activity of the election campaign has passed, I’m finding more time than previously to read and go to movies. There is a film that I’ve just seen and there are two books that I’ve read recently that I’d like to recommend in this column: each of the three focused in somewhat different ways on the tightening grip of plutocracy in our country.
First, the movie that I’d highly recommend is filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, which my wife and I viewed at the Woodlands Square Theaters in Oldsmar. It begins with dramatic coverage of Iceland’s “meltdown” in the wake of a financial crisis brought on by the manipulations of bankers andthe pliable politicians who served their interests and then shows that the American crisis followed a similar pattern. Since my blood was already boiling over Wall Street’s continuing efforts to gut even the mild reforms enacted this year and over the granting of another set of unjustified bonuses to those who have caused most of our current economic pain, the film mostly reinforced the outrage that I was already feeling. However, I must say that it presented the evidence with unusual clarity and effectiveness in ways that only the mass media can. Since the Wall Street moguls refused to be interviewed for the film, Ferguson chose to rely largely on clips of their testimony in Congress – but these alone are quite damning. As a former professor, I found the interviews of such paid academic lackeys of the financial elite as Glenn Hubbard, the Dean of Columbia Business School (formerly head of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush) highly revealing and interesting. Realizing belatedly that he has made a mistake in opening himself up to Ferguson’s questions, Hubbard flounders helplessly on film under the relentless revelations that he is paid by the financiers to give academic and political “respectability” to their greedy demands. If the film has a weakness, it is that it leaves the audience feeling angry but with few clues as to how one might channel that anger constructively.
A highly critical but informative book that I’ve recently read is Robert Kuttner’s A Presidency in Peril:The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control Our Economic Future. Although I believe that the author’s criticisms of President Obama and his administration on corporate bailouts, economic stimulus, health care and Wall Street reform are sometimes exaggerated,and don’t fully take into account the political difficulties of coping with the enormous power of the economic elite today, I did find myself becoming increasingly critical of the Obama administration as I read the array of detailed examples that Kuttner has documented. The Obama administration’s recent waffling on the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich and the appointment of a commission of millionaires to make recommendations on deficit and debt reduction seem to provide new evidence for Kuttner’s conclusions that Obama tends to give away far too much too easily to the greedy rich and their Republican allies. Despite an analysis of the Obama administration that is almost unremittingly negative, Kuttner tries to conclude on a hopeful note. He cites Bill Moyers as a progressive who has “lost patience” with Obama and the current Democratic congressional party, and proclaims: “ We need more progressives to lose patience.” He advocates that we offer “tough love for Obama” and threaten to withdraw support unless he stands up for the public interest against the special interests of the corporate elite. Citing Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson, he concludes: “Presidents grow in office, and they grow when they are pushed.” This conclusion, however, strikes me as too vague to be very helpful. How to push Obama effectively when power rests as fully in the hands of the top one percent as Kuttner has demonstrated is far from clear.
A readable and informative new book that reaches back well before the Obama administration to explain how our political economy has come to be transformed into a plutocracy is Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, by political scientists Jacob S. Hacker (Yale) and Paul Pierson (Univ. of California, Berkeley). Though the authors cite precedents for American plutocracy in the late 19th century and in the 1920’s, they trace the roots of our current plutocracy back primarily to the 1970’s, when the executives of many giant corporations decided to reorganize themselves politically and pour huge sums of money into political campaign contributions, lobbying and think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute aimed at weakening their labor union rivals and changing the agenda of politics and the content of public policy. In stages since then, Hacker and Pierson demonstrate, the economic elite have tightened their grip on the political process, creating a highly unequal society that undermines democracy, mocks humane conceptions of economic justice and threatens living standards for most of the population. The Republican Party has been purged of most moderate leaders and has become little more than an engine for enormous tax giveaways to the greedy rich and deregulation of their often unsavory corporate practices. Meanwhile, the more heterogeneous Democratic Party has seen many of its leaders “bought off” or effectively threatened by the rich. Hacker and Pierson conclude with a three-part reform agenda that meshes well with Kuttner’s but is only slightly more specific on details of how to effectuate it: 1) reduce the capacity of entrenched interests to block needed reform, 2) facilitate broader participation among those whose voices are currently drowned out, and 3) encourage the development of groups that can provide a continuing, organized capacity to mobilize middle-class voters and monitor government and politics on their behalf, as labor unions once did.
This film and these two books all offer enlightening diagnoses of the current problems that plague our political economy. However, after watching the film and reading the books, I fear that the task of finding specific solutions still lies mostly beyond our grasp .
Read the original article at Largo Democrats.
Presidency in Peril?
Obamadogs blog - November 30, 2010
As the Frontline program from today, "The Warning," stressed, a major but not the sole force in the financial system's collapse was the trade in derivatives. It was not the only problem issuing from the deregulation instigated during the Clinton boom years; however, when Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999, the volume of derivative trading took off and became tied to the securitization of mortgage debt, which in turn made the whole system vulnerable to a sharp setback when the housing market boom went bust. The story of Brooksley Born's efforts to get the Rubinistas to think about the lack of transparency is told in Kuttner's chapter on the loyal opposition, as is Sheila Bair's opposition to the way Summers and Geithner proposed to regulate the financial industry in the bill that was passed this year. It is noteworthy that the common denominator in this part of the story -- apart from the fact that Sheila Bair, Chair of the FDIC is also a woman fighting against so-called captains of finance -- is that the derivatives market remains largely dark and hence beyond transparency, let alone regulation. The problem was that the so-called regulatory reform bill was written by the bankers it supposedly regulated; as a result, we still have no idea of the extent to which toxic assets still cloud the balance sheets of major banks that are investment houses as well as banks. This flaw in the so-called reform is one reason why Kuttner sees Obama as no different than Bush in economic policy. (Obviously, there are other reasons such as Obama's waffling on the Bush tax cuts that make the two presidents more alike than different. But for Kuttner's story the difference lies in how the banks that created the mess have been treated: with kid gloves, including bailouts with taxpayer money with little in return by way of real regulation.) Consequently, the original purpose of banks -- to provide capital to entrepeneurs and thus help grow the economy so that growth produces jobs -- has taken a back seat to the search for profits by selling derivatives to clients stupid enough to buy them. The effect is seen is the anemic recovery: capitalism can't work without capital, and the too-big-to-fail investment banks and bank holding companies have no real "market incentives" (let alone government rules) to extend credit despite the fact that the Federal Reserve has forced interest rates to historically low rates.
Read the entire review at Obamadogs.
Steve's Daily Rants
August 22, 2010
A Presidency in Peril is a timely look at the disappointment that has been Obama's first term, by Robert Kuttner. The events of various debacles, mostly the economy and healthcare, are gone over in excruciating detail, but the book can boiled down to two main points: 1) Obama doesn't have it in him to be a decisive leader a la FDR; his talents are conciliation and consensus-building, which is both not possible with the Cheap Labor Party in Congress and not what the times require, and 2) he has provided a sickening continuity with the economic policies of Bush, even retaining most of the same failed economic team. Anyone who doubts one-party (with two wings) rule in America should read this book. The financial elite run this country to their exclusive benefit, and the rest of us can go scratch. It's not going to get better.
I am usually right in my assessments of people, and I thought from the beginning of 2008 that Obama was an empty suit. I really didn't want Hillary to win the Democratic nomination, because Clinton's economic policies were part of what landed us in crisis in 2008. So I was rather discouraged to find in this book that the behind-the-scenes eminence gris of the Obama Administation is Robert Rubin. And what is especially revolting is looking at the records of the people making policy: Rubin ran Citigroup into the group; Lawrence Summers ran Harvard into the ground; Geithner ran the Fed nearly aground, etc ad nauseum.
In other words, it's the same old story. Politician says what he needs to to get elected, then governs for the benefit of Big Money. I was merely disappointed that I was wrong in my initial assessment of him, but a lot of people out there voted for him really hoping he was different, and their crushing disappointment that he is not will probably keep them from voting in the future. And then it's time to look out, because the Cheap Labor crypto-fascists are smelling blood.
Read the original review here...
Needz Moar Obama Books
July 25, 2010
Countless books about the Obama presidency have been recently released or announced. Most of them are from nutty conservatives, but progressives have an excellent alternative.
A quick review:
John Hagee is "just saying" that President Obama is going to get us all killed by God.
Pamela Geller, who named her blog after Atlas Shat, has produced a turd of her own.
Bill O'Reilly is just dying to bust out his sponge and rub it all over "Real America."
Newt Gingrich's latest is catching on.
In the midst of all of the right - wing bile is a great book about the Obama presidency by Robert Kuttner -- one of the most important progressive voices around. To be clear, it's more like a de-facto trilogy. In my mind, Kuttner's latest three book are best read (or re-read) as a series.
First, 2007's The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity. This book isn't about Obama (it was written well before Obama was the Democratic nominee), but it sets the stage for the next two.
Second, 2008's Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency. (Written before Obama won the general election.)
Third, from earlier this year, A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama's Promise, Wall Street's Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future. Kuttner manages to be highly substantive and thorough, yet easy to read. Where he's critical, he's also constructive; making the case for a better way and reminding all involved of the magnitude of the problems it's necessary to address. Where Kuttner is critical of the president, he's following up on vital points he's been making for years. For what it's worth, I can't recommend this series highly enough.
Read the whole article here...
July 24, 2010
Is it a Presidency or a Nation that is in Peril?
This is the book I thought I was buying when I bought the "valentine to Obama" by Jonathan Alter called "The "Promise." Alter's book, disappointingly, proved to be little more than a gift-wrapped package of apologies for Obama's meager accomplishments so far: all done without any serious policy analysis. Incredibly, Alter makes Timothy Geithner into a hero?
Not so here. In this carefully researched nuanced brief, Kuttner is not afraid to call a spade a spade. He puts his analysis where his mouth is, and in doing so, provides some serious behind-the-scenes revelations about the cabal responsible for the financial collapse, albeit from an avowedly progressive perspective. Thank god however, this did not turn out to be just another Obama apologia. As a "born-again ex-Obama supporter," I share the author's main concern: That our new President has spent all of his political capital chasing the "phantom of bipartisanism" by "hacking," "tacking" and "triangulating" his way to the right. In the process, he has had to cozy up to the Wall Street crowd, led by Bill Clinton's buddy, Robert Rubin, and at the same time, has found it expedient to jettison his base -- the progressives (like me) who "went to the well" for him during the election. Kuttner main point is that once we progressives have elected Obama, it is still our duty to help keep him honest? Well, excuse me? I thought that was precisely why we elected him?
Why is it that the Republicans do not have to "keep their elected officials" ideologically honest, when we democrats do? Why do, once we have elected them, they get the religious bug to want to move to the "non-existent center?" All of a sudden, once elected, democrats (but not Republicans) have found the new (non-existent) religion of bipartisanism? The American political system has finally become an ideological zero-sum game with no overlap.
So far, the Obama "rope-dope-for-hope" move to the center has gotten us nothing but an expanded insurance system written in big Pharma's sweet spot. And even though Obama gave away the store -- all of the items important to his base like the single-payer system, and the public option, etc. he netted a total of three Republican votes? Stripped of its progressive features, I feel like Obama used his bipartisanism to pee on our leg and tell us it was raining? Some kind of bipartinsanism that was?
Here, Kuttner has taken us deep into the bowels of the entire system of high-level financial corruption, and has made it about as transparent and as clear as it is ever likely to get in the U.S. Only the two hour pod cast by "This American Life" on the same subject has come close to making it clearer. What is NOT made so clear in this book however, is why Obama had to do it: why he had to ignore his base and move to the right where he got nothing in return? Is he just a "closet" neocon himself? Or, is he just paying back his 'Big Dog" donors for their campaign contributions? Or, is it as his ex-Minister said: "Obama is just another Chicago politician?" Or does he think he can just continue to finesse us (his base) until 2012 rolls around and then give us a symbolic "song and a tap dance," show up in a few Black churches, with a new sheaf of "pretty speeches" and we'll just snap back in line? No chance this time.
Whatever is the correct answer, I agree with this author: that we are now in a multigenerational "Reagan type trickle-down holding pattern;" another Cheney/Bush jobless recovery. I also agree with him that we progressives need to get up off our duffs, stand up on our hind legs and bark back at Osama's "rope-a-dope-for-hope strategy." Its time to take to the streets and let the White House know we are not going to be "stiffed" any longer. Here Kuttner has identified the ringleader as Bill Clinton's financial guru, Robert Rubin. But I believe it is clear that the Rubin crowd, simply are picking the low hanging fruit: There simply were too few disincentives NOT to join the deregulated Wall Street orgy already in progress with Cheney/Bush. Said differently, they simply stole a couple of plays from the Cheney/Bush playbook. And voila, since the financial rescue package, it's been déjà vu all over again: continuing risky bets with our money, while the wall street pirates run out the "front door" with their pockets filled with mega-buck bonuses. For them, it is much more profitable to use our "TARP money" for risky credit default swaps that generate mega-million bonuses, than to lend to small banks that could then finance jobs for a speedy recovery. What happened to the idea of a common good on Wall Street?
So forget Osama's photo ops, we must continue to keep our eyes on the donut and not on the hole: What we see today, most flagrantly exposed in the Gulf oil spill, is just more of the same greedy, mean-spirited, shortsighted and short-term bottom line-at-all-cost piracy that we saw during the Cheney/Bush years. Only this time it's signed in blood in Osama's name, underwritten by his tendency to turn his head the other way and give us a new limp-wristed "pep talk." If this is hope that we can believe in, that audacious hope that he spoke of during the run up to the election, then we are as likely as not to see another serious crash in the economy before Obama's term ends. And Barrack Obama knows it.
It's the Corruption Stupid!
There is no way to fix what ails America from Osama's limp-wristed "audacious hope rope-a-dope" position: that is, with media spin, pretty speeches, demagoging the other side, and photo opts. What ails America is systemic corruption, as far as the eye can see. I know it; Obama knows it, and the American people know it.
The reason Wall Street is back up and "humming" while main street is still in the "intensive care" ward, and the "real" unemployment rate still hovers around 20 percent with no relief in sight, is the same reason we cannot fix the "credit default swaps;" it is the same reason the U.S Supreme Court expanded corporate contributions to a First Amendment right at a time that credit default swaps and illicit corporate money are the two key issues causing all of the nation's financial woes. It is the same reason that we have the Gulf oil spill: lax regulations bought and paid for by "Corporate USA Unlimited."
The systemic dysfunction in American politics is this: no matter how deep our problems get, the ruling cliques just keep using their illicit contributions to redefine their own crimes as "legal" and then, like a Mack truck, they just keep on running over the American people. In short, corporate corruption has eaten away the "protective coating" around America's democracy, and as a result, it is not only Obama's presidency that is in peril, our very system of democracy is seriously in peril as well. We are lethally exposed to a systemic evil that continues to metastasize.
Kuttner ends his very pessimistic analysis on an optimistic note. But his heart is not in it. He knows that while we thought we had elected a thoroughbred -- an intelligent leader with a backbone and a couple of cahones - what we got instead is just another Chicago politician. With the gulf oil crisis exposing his weaknesses and political nakedness even further, Obama has no choice but to bounce off the ropes trying to fight back as best he can. However, I believe it is too late. This President, for all the hope we had vested in him, is proving that he has been tarred with the same "corruption brush" that the Cheney/Bush crowd left us.
Kuttner has shown me enough. If Ben Bernanke begins two days of testimony before Congress Wednesday. WSJ's David Wessel says if lawmakers can abandon their partisan politics, there's one big question they need to ask the Fed chairman. I am recalling my 2008 vote for Obama and am opening up a new "Rev Jeremiah Wright Institute for Political Reform" (across the street from Oprah's Harpo Enterprises). Nevertheless, this is a great book, for Kuttner shows here that while the American people may be down and out and almost powerless to change the system, we are not at all fools. Five stars.
Read the whole article here...
A Review of A Presidency In Peril by Robert Kuttner
Hazel Henderson's Instablog
July 19, 2010
In my review of Robert Kuttner’s earlier Obama’s Challenge (2008), I shared his concern that Obama’s administration could become one of continuity – with little of the change the USA needs. In this earlier volume, Kuttner worried, as I did, that Obama’s insiders would become captives of Wall Street and corporate interests. I feared that Obama’s brilliance, idealism and political deftness would prove no match for the corruption of US politics with money. The entrenched, incumbent fossilized industries' rearguard battles would continue to protect their interests, subsidies and privileged power on Wall Street and in Washington.
I detected Obama’s key weakness in not understanding that economics (never a science) was the powerful rationalizing ideology buttressing Republicans, business and financial interests and purveyed through academia, policy circles and mass media to the US public. Kuttner saw how Obama had succumbed easily to the advice of Robert Rubin, Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary and later Citigroup’s chairman, known as “Mr. Leverage,” who had encouraged Wall Street’s risk culture. Like most Democratic politicians since Bill Clinton, Obama slavishly followed Rubin’s advice, bringing Rubin protégés: Larry Summers as his key economic advisor, Tim Geithner as his Treasury Secretary, as well as a phalanx of their economic policy clones whose theories favored financial and corporate interests over Main Street.
Kuttner’s new A Presidency in Peril confirms all my worst fears and tracks in damning detail how Summers and Geithner, abetted by Obama’s unwise reappointment of Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair and the political machinations of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, derailed Obama’s agenda for “change we can believe in.” Instead, Obama’s economic team proved a disaster. Kuttner recounts first hand how Summers and Geithner derailed reform of finance, deferring to their Wall Street allies in continuing the rifling of the public purse begun by President George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former chair of Goldman Sachs (with Geithner's help as then-president of the New York Fed and Ben Bernanke).
Read the whole article here.
A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama's Promise, Wall Street's Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future
by Robert Kuttner
Springfield, Missouri, Library Blog
Don't let the lengthy title discourage you. Here's an excerpt from a review at Global Geopolitics:
"Much of the book focuses on the response to the economic crisis, in particular the bank bailouts and the stimulus. In both cases Obama took a centrist path that largely protected the interests of the wealthy. This is most clear in the case of the bank bailout. In the closing weeks of the presidential campaign Obama took time out to push for the TARP, a huge wad of money for the banks that came largely without strings. After TARP, the bailouts continued, with Citigroup and Bank of America nursed back to life thanks to the generosity of the taxpayers."
The author, Robert Kuttner, presents the position that the bailout was never ambitious to begin with. In the end, the plan was inadequate in its impact on the economy. He also addresses the health care strategy, giving the premise that it was poorly timed and poorly developed.
The Obama Presidency: Possibilty or Peril?
By Ari Berman
June 14, 2010
Is Barack Obama's "presidency in peril," as the title of Robert Kuttner's new book suggests? When the book went to press in early March 2010, things certainly seemed that way. After a year of tortured debate, healthcare reform legislation appeared dead. Financial reform legislation looked toothless and pathetic. Obama's popularity—and that of his party—was plunging. Republicans had just picked up a Senate seat in deep blue Massachusetts. The author of Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency, published just months before the 2008 election, had every reason to fret.
Read the whole article here.
A New Field Guide to America's Plutocracy
Too Much Online
June 7, 2010
How could this have happened? How could a Wall Street so totally discredited in the eyes of the American people so soundly prevail over real reformers — and a new President elected on the promise of change? How could the financial industry kingpins whose mad chase after personal fortune crashed the economy get a green light to continue that chasing?
Robert Kuttner explains just how in his just-published A Presidency in Peril, the first comprehensive history of the 2008 financial crash and the recovery and reform debates that followed.
Kuttner may be this history’s best possible author. The moving force behind the American Prospect, the nation’s premiere progressive public policy journal, Kuttner has spent the last three decades expertly dissecting the public policy decisions that have tilted America’s income and wealth ever upward.
But don't call Kuttner a "policy wonk." That label has never fit him. Wonks relish the complexity of public policy — and don’t particularly care if anyone outside the policy-making community understands what’s going on. Kuttner cares deeply.
Read the whole article here.
Book Notes: A Presidency In Peril
New Deal 2.0
June 3, 2010
In order to know this story you have to go back to 2008 and 2009 and see where the path was laid out, and Robert Kuttner’s A Presidency in Peril is that story. Kuttner goes back to the initial selection of Obama’s economic team, revealing how the ability to carve out a new direction for Wall Street was sidelined in favor of administration officials who were too close to the old system. He walks through the Bush bailouts, and shows the continuity with both the major players, officials and tools into the new administration. The key decisions made in early 2009, going with PPIP and the stress test as a way of signaling to the market that the current biggest banks would stay the way they are, are described in detail. Kuttner’s narrative stands as the best source of how these calls brought us to where we are now.
Read the whole article here.
May 1, 2010
Kuttner follows his previous work, Obama’s Challenge (2008), with a scathing criticism that Obama has thus far followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, favoring Wall Street and failing to rein in its more rapacious practices. Drawing on investigations, testimony, and his own research, Kuttner details the outrageous characters and deals that have saved firms with political clout (Citibank) and shut down those without it (Bear Stearns and Lehman). He further details the enormous influence of Goldman Sachs in a system of “crony capitalism,” a revolving door of Goldman alumni who have worked for administrations dating back to the Clinton era and are now calling the shots behind the scenes in the Obama administration. By propping up failed institutions, Obama is prolonging the agony of the financial crisis, argues Kuttner. Even worse, the administration is squandering an opportunity for real financial reform on a level comparable to that of the New Deal era. Rather than prop up failed banks, the administration should have recapitalized them and restructured the entire banking system, regulating exotic derivatives and providing needed consumer protections. Kuttner argues passionately for a progressive movement to hold Obama to the promise he represented of real change in a system that continues to favor the wealthy and influential over common working Americans. A powerful, passionate work with strong arguments for how Obama might save his presidency and—more importantly—reform the American financial system.— Vanessa Bush
A Presidency in Peril: Warnings from Robert Kuttner
By Dean Baker
May 4, 2010
Like most progressives, Robert Kuttner had great hopes following President Obama's election in 2008. However, Kuttner also has been around long enough to realize the risk that President Obama might not live up to his potential in bringing about progressive change. His new book, A Presidency in Peril, documents how the Obama administration has been falling short.
The basic story is both straightforward and depressing. President Obama surrounded himself with advisers that were close to Wall Street and business in general. This undoubtedly reflected his disposition; he had always been a political moderate. However, it was also partly determined by his political backers. Wall Street's generosity with campaign contributions was an essential part of his rise to the top of the Democratic field in the presidential primaries. This guaranteed that Obama would pursue a cautious business-friendly path.
Much of the book focuses on the response to the economic crisis, in particular the bank bailouts and the stimulus. In both cases Obama took a centrist path that that largely protected the interests of the wealthy. This is most clear in the case of the bank bailout. In the closing weeks of the presidential campaign Obama took time out to push for the TARP, a huge wad of money for the banks that came largely without strings. After TARP, the bailouts continued, with Citigroup and Bank of America nursed back to life thanks to the generosity of the taxpayers.
By contrast, the government could have taken a hard line, temporarily taking over insolvent banks, including these giants. This would have wiped out shareholders. It also would have meant giving bondholders a haircut, and sending the top executives packing. While this route was derisively termed "nationalization," including by some top Obama officials, the point was not to have the government own the banks. Rather the point was to do a quick clean-up operation that would involve selling the banks, possibly in smaller pieces, back to the private sector as soon as possible.
The Obama administration has boasted that its path prevented a second Great Depression and has allowed for most of the bailout money to be repaid. Of course, avoiding a second Great Depression is a rather low bar (this spectre was an invention of the Wall Street crew - it was never a serious possibility) and repaying the bailout money is essentially meaningless.
Read the whole article here.
'Peril' blasts president's ties to Wall Street
The Boston Globe
By Chuck Leddy
Globe Correspondent / April 13, 2010
Robert Kuttner, cofounder of the American Prospect magazine, pulls no punches in his attack on President Obama for cozying up to Wall Street.
Kuttner’s narrative, filled with little-publicized details about sweetheart deals given to banks by an accommodating federal government, reads like an indictment drawn up by an indignant, pugnacious prosecutor. Kuttner does take off the gloves long enough to ask: “Isn’t this account too harsh on Obama?” Probably not.
“A Presidency in Peril” shows that Kuttner profoundly understands our complex financial system and how that system uses politics to get what it wants. And what Wall Street wants and has gotten, says Kuttner, is for the government to bail it out while not making any structural changes. “Bankers were pleased to take the taxpayer money,” Kuttner writes, “but fiercely resisted changing their [failed] business models.”
On page after page, Kuttner justifies his criticism of Obama for neglecting the deep structural problems in our financial system. He highlights the many former Wall Street insiders whom Obama selected for his economic team. “Instead of making a radical break with Wall Street, [Obama] delivered a startling continuity” of ongoing bailouts and indifference to structural reforms. Kuttner concludes that “the perception that Obama is closer to Wall Street than Main Street is more than an image problem, it’s reality.”
Read the whole article here.