Posted: April 21st, 2010 by Militant Libertarian
President Bush’s connections to Enron were well-hyped during the company’s accounting debacle that rippled through the economy. Time magazine even had an article called, “Bush’s Enron Problem.” The Associated Press ran with the headline, “Bush-backing Enron makes big money off crisis.” David Callaway wrote that Enron for Bush was worse than Whitewater for Clinton.
In 2002, the New York Times wrote: “President Bush is seeking to play down his relationship with Enron’s embattled chairman, Kenneth L. Lay. But their ties are broad and deep and go back many years, and the relationship has been beneficial to both.” (h/t Lachlan Markey)
But the mere $151,722.42 (inflation adjusted) in contributions from Enron-affiliated executives, employees, and PACs to Bush hardly add up to Obama’s $1,007,370.85 (inflation adjusted) from Goldman-affiliated executives and employees. That’s also not taking into account how much Goldman contributed to Obama cabinet member Hillary Clinton ($415,595.63 inflation adjusted), which was itself almost three times as much as Bush received as well.
It would be fair to say that the total amount the Obama administration has received from those affiliated with Goldman Sachs is ten times that of what Bush received from Enron.
Goldman is being sued for civil fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission for deliberately putting unwitting clients on the wrong side of a mortgage security trade that had been designed to fail.
UPDATE: It’s not even just campaign contributions. There’s quite the revolving door. According to our own Tim Carney:
Greg Craig, Obama’s first White House counsel, has joined Goldman, we learned this week. He may not have too much pull in the West Wing, which drove him out for hewing too close to Obama’s campaign promises, but as a former insider he will provide valuable intelligence to the world’s largest investment bank.
Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, was paid $35,000 as a consultant to Goldman while also working as Bill Clinton’s top fundraiser. Obama’s fundraiser and economic adviser Warren Buffett is very long on Goldman, having bet on them in 2008 in the expectation of a bailout. Mark Patterson, chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, was a Goldman Sachs lobbyist until months before joining Team Obama.
What does that add up to? Getting a hand in making the regulations:
Politico quoted a Goldman lobbyist Monday saying, “We’re not against regulation. We’re for regulation. We partner with regulators.” At least three times in Goldman’s conference call Tuesday, spokesmen trumpeted the firm’s support for more federal control.
… Goldman’s annual report explicitly endorsed stricter federal capital and liquidity requirements. Goldman reported on the conference call that it holds 15 percent “Tier 1 capital,” meaning it is very liquid and not very risky. Goldman can play it safe, you see, without needing a regulation. But regulations prevent smaller competitors from taking the risks needed to compete with Goldman (and every competitor is smaller).
Read more of what Carney has to say about it here.