Fat-Cat Bankers Snub President Obama

Posted on December 14, 2009

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On Sunday, President Barack Obama said, “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.”

On Monday, the fat-cat CEOs, who are still employed and still getting their fat bonuses, thanks to a bailout from the U.S. government, had only a 75 percent attendance rate for a meeting at the White House.

Three out of 12 of the bank executives who were scheduled to meet with the president today didn’t show up. They said their plane was delayed by fog.

Excuse me? I think those truant CEOs need a letter from their mothers. It was foggy along the East Coast on Sunday! (I had to drive through a cloud to go over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge). The fog was not a surprise weather event. The other nine bankers made it to Washington. As some newscasters commented, most folks who had a meeting with the president of the United States would have flown into town the day before, to make sure they were on time.

Or the bankers could have taken a train. The high-speed Amtrak Acela makes the run from New York’s Penn Station to Washington’s Union Station in about three and a half hours. (Cost of a ticket, about $36 one-way, business class. You could look it up on the Amtrak Web page.) Or the bankers could have had their limos DRIVE them from New York to Washington in about four hours.

Sounds to me like the three executives (from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup) just plain dissed President Obama.

On the agenda for the White House meeting: Wall Street’s failure to open the credit valve to small businesses; and Wall Street’s resistance to financial reform. You can read all about it in The Washington Post story here.

My two favorite paragraphs form The Post story:

Obama convened a similar meeting with bank executives in March, and the need for a replay highlights the lack of progress in the interim. The banking industry has reduced lending for five consecutive quarters, even as it has regained profitability thanks to vast public aid.

The administration’s success in rescuing banks stands in starker contrast every day with the financial problems of many Americans, most of all the lack of new jobs. Democrats made restless by the disparity are mounting pressure on the White House.

If the president can’t persuade Wall Street to loan some of the TARP funds to small businesses that are starved for working capital, then bypass Wall Street. Send the money directly to the Small Business Administration, to use for loans or loan guarantees to small businesses. Just my opinion.

— Bernie Hayden

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