On financial reform, Americans are about to be duped into the Left's agenda through cajoling and collusion just in time for the mid-term elections.
Over a year ago, amidst the worst economic crisis in 70 years, newly-inaugurated populist President Barack Obama summoned Wall Street bankers to the White House to chastise them about the high salaries on Wall Street.
Given that this meeting was before the nationalization of health care, the tea parties, the War with Fox News, and his job approval numbers still were the 70s, Obama still had the winds of quasi-credibility and excitement of a new president at his back when he castigated the bankers*:
“Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”
“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
It was an interesting threat to come from an untried, yet popular, young president: Either you play my way or I'll unleash the hordes upon your heads.
Now, a little more than a year later, as Democrats head into the 2010 mid-term elections, an effort is being made to soften opposition to the Democrats' version of financial reform, and President Obama is unleashing the unruly mob on the heads of Wall Street, making good on his threat from more than a year ago.
Regardless of the deficiencies in the Democrats' reform bill (reportedly, it provides for unlimited bailouts well as higher taxes for Wall Street banks), it is not the substance of the bill that is being questioned here, but the methodology being deployed by the White House and its cadre of cohorts.
First, the most-recent astroturf warning:
On April 10th, the AFL-CIO announced that it would be "storming" Wall Street in support of financial reform.
Thousands of angry labor supporters are going to descend on Wall Street later this month to demand greater regulations on the banking industry, including a tax on financial transactions and higher levies on hedge funds and private equity, the head of the AFL-CIO said.
"It's an unprecedented, grassroots campaign that says: Good jobs now; make Wall Street pay," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
"One of the things we're looking at is a financial transaction tax, a small tax of a quarter of a penny on each share that they sell, on each derivative -- things like that," he said.
"And then to start taxing hedge funds and private equity funds at the normal tax rates."
Second, call a demon out into the open:
Populism can only be effective if there is an enemy (real or perceived) that has caused the crowd pain or suffering. To that end, while blame for the economic malaise can be attributed to many different characters (not the least of which are the Washington politicians who now claim to be able to fix the financial sector), Goldman Sachs is the biggest head to put on the block of the public guillotine.
Moreover, the unions have been using Goldman Sachs for several months as the demon from which hell hath come.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein may have had his tongue in his cheek when he said his bankers were doing “God’s work,” but the company’s critics aren’t laughing.
In fact, a couple hundred of them — led by Service Unions International Union president Andy Stern — plan to gather outside of Goldman Sachs’ Washington offices Monday morning to protest the firm’s mega-bonuses, and demand the end of the "too big to fail" doctrine, according to a press release.
Third, legitimize the lynching:
On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents with defrauding investors.
RedState's Erick Erickson summed it up nicely this morning:
In a nutshell: The SEC announced its charges Friday morning. At 10:38 a.m. the New York Times breaks the story. 28 minutes later Organizing for America sends out an email from Barack Obama calling on people to support Financial Reform.
Right after that, the New York Times released a massive story going after Goldman Sachs. By the afternoon the DNC has its Google Ads up tying the Goldman Sachs matter to Financial Reform.
This is stunning. Let’s not forget that Goldman was a top donor to Obama in 2008.
Read this entire time line. It is pretty scary how the White House is using the full arms of the government, including quasi-independent government agencies, and outside interest groups to create bad guys with which to pass ever creeping socialist reforms that will continue to cripple innovation in this country.
Fourth: Enter the Knight on White Horse to Quell the Unruly Mob
There is no point for populist demagoguery unless there is both a demon and a savior with solution in hand.
President Barack Obama will travel to New York on Thursday to deliver remarks about financial reform, the White House said on Monday, as he pushes his plan to tighten Wall Street regulations.
He will call for swift action by the Senate and "remind Americans what is at stake" if a strong Wall Street reform package does not go ahead, spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
While at the same time, the pitchforks amass in the streets:
The president will make his remarks at Cooper Union on the same day the Senate is expected to begin debate on the regulatory overhaul, and the AFL-CIO organizes a march on Wall Street to support the legislation.
There's nothing spontaneous about it.
As it has for a number of years, the AFL-CIO launched its annual Executive Pay Watch last week. While this year's EPW has a fresh face to it, but it is the same basic class-warfare message that the union behemoth has had since 1997.
First launched in 1997, this year's AFL-CIO 2010 Executive PayWatch exposes the egregious compensation and lobbying efforts against reform from the 'big 6' Wall Street banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.
"This report makes clear that Wall Street has still not gotten the message: Hard-working Americans will not be their ATMs," said Richard Trumka, president of the 11.5 million-member AFL-CIO. "For those at the top, it's business as usual and worse. Bank executives who took massive taxpayer bailouts are now pouring money into lobbying on financial reform. It's time for Congress to enact real financial regulatory reform and make Wall Street pay to create the jobs they destroyed."
How it all plays out
With mid-term election losses looming for Democrats, using financial reform now gives Democrat politicians an ad-ready campaign to paint the GOP with the in-bed-with-Wall-Street-bankers brush.
Here's what the union-paid ads will say:
"At a time when Americans are losing jobs and homes, (insert Democrat candidate here) stood with America's working families to reform Wall Street and bring balance back to America. Meanwhile, (insert Republican candidate here) did the bidding of the bankers by fighting real reform...those same bankers who brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression. Stand up to Wall Street and (insert Republican candidate here) . Vote for (insert Democrat candidate here) on November 2nd."
If President Obama and his union astro-turfers have their way, most Americans won't realize they've been duped until well after November.
* - Emphasis added throughout
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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