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      I spent a half-hour tonight sitting in the hallway, waiting out a tornado warning. It never hit here (I don’t think we got more than a sprinkle of rain) but it did hit the Hellmouth, where I used to live north of here. It hit the local mall, and took down a nearby car dealership … Continue reading Tornado night
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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 1, 2021 by Tony Wikrent Strategic Political Economy U.S. Population Growth, an Economic Driver, Grinds to a Halt [Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 7-26-2021] America’s weak population growth, already held back by a decadelong fertility slump, is dropping closer to zero because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In h […]
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No, Mr. President, the majority of your campaign donations did NOT come from small donors.

Via Ani at No Quarter, President Obama gave an interview to John Harwood at CNBC this week. Harwood began the interview by asking the following question:

In the 2008 campaign, you got a lot of money, about a million dollars from employees of Goldman Sachs. Your former White House Counsel, Greg Craig (PH) is apparently going to represent Goldman Sachs. In light of this case, do either of those things embarrass you?

Harwood may not be aware that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder don’t experience secondary emotions like embarrassment. But I digress. Here is the President’s response:

No. First of all, I got a lot of money from a lot of people. And the vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country.

Excuse me? Ani directs us to Politifact, where President Obama’s statement is summarily debunked.

In the general election, Obama got about 34 percent of his individual donations from small donors, people who gave $200 or less, according to a report from the Campaign Finance Institute. Another 23 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and another 42 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.

His numbers for the primary were similar. He got about 30 percent of his money from donors who gave $200 or less. Another 28 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and 43 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.

Even if you raise the bar for “small donors” to $1,000, which is ridiculous, they still don’t add up to a majority of those who gave to Obama’s campaign.

Obama supporters like to counter that Obama raised more money from small donors than any previous candidate for president, which is true. But Obama still needed large donors to fund his campaign. Obama implies that he won the presidency without much money from large donors, and the evidence does not support that. In fact, even if we set the bar for small donors higher — if we stipulated that everyone who gave less than $1,000 was a small donor — that still means 43 percent gave more.

Here is the Center for Responsive Politics list of Obama’s top donors in the 2008 election cycle. Goldman Sachs donated $994,795 to candidate Obama. Here is a list of Goldman Sachs employees and the amounts they gave to the Obama campaign. The list goes on for multiple pages.

And, get this, Goldman Sachs comes in 6th on the Open Secrets “heavy hitters” list–“the 100 biggest givers in federal-level politics since 1989.” No wonder Goldman Sachs has such a powerful influence on our federal government.

Furthermore, the financial, insurance, and real estate industries overall donated $39,663,073 to Barack Obama’s campaign. Obama also had hundreds of bundlers who collected between $50,000 and $200,000 each for his campaign. A number of those bundlers were lobbyists, despite Obama’s claims to the contrary. The bundlers list also goes on for multiple pages.

This two-year-old article from the Washington Post analyzes Obama’s “grass roots” campaign support during the primaries. The article is dated April 11, 2008.

Sen. Barack Obama credits his presidential campaign with creating a “parallel public financing system” built on a wave of modest donations from homemakers and high school teachers. Small givers, he said at a fundraiser this week, “will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally been reserved for the wealthy and the powerful.”

But those with wealth and power also have played a critical role in creating Obama’s record-breaking fundraising machine, and their generosity has earned them a prominent voice in shaping his campaign. Seventy-nine “bundlers,” five of them billionaires, have tapped their personal networks to raise at least $200,000 each. They have helped the campaign recruit more than 27,000 donors to write checks for $2,300, the maximum allowed. Donors who have given more than $200 account for about half of Obama’s total haul, which stands at nearly $240 million.

Hmmm… I notice Obama didn’t promise his small donors access and influence over the policies of his administration, if elected.

Let’s look at Obama statement to John Harwood again:

the vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country.

No, no the majority of your donations came from the rich and powerful, Mr. President. And it shows in your policies. And I’m getting sick and tired of you lying about it. Just sayin’….

Lazy Saturday News and Views

Out of Town News, Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA

Good Morning, Conflucians!!!!

It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning here in the Boston ‘burbs. I just love Spring!

Personally, I’m still mainly interested in the Blago-Rezko-Obama story, but there is some other news today.


ECONOMIC MELTDOWN

The New York Times informs us that Rating Agency Data Aided Wall Street in Mortgage Deals Yes, as you probably already guessed, the fix was in on those “complex investments” from the very beginning. The ratings agencies were collaborating with the investment banks to make sure all those “high risk” bets came out the way the banks wanted them to.

The rating agencies made public computer models that were used to devise ratings to make the process less secretive. That way, banks and others issuing bonds — companies and states, for instance — wouldn’t be surprised by a weak rating that could make it harder to sell the bonds or that would require them to offer a higher interest rate.

But by routinely sharing their models, the agencies in effect gave bankers the tools to tinker with their complicated mortgage deals until the models produced the desired ratings. [….]

But for Goldman and other banks, a road map to the right ratings wasn’t enough. Analysts from the agencies were hired to help construct the deals.

In 2005, for instance, Goldman hired Shin Yukawa, a ratings expert at Fitch, who later worked with the bank’s mortgage unit to devise the Abacus investments.

It really is time to break up these greedy “too big to fail” (TBTF) banks, but the Obama administration still defends their right to exist. Scarecrow at FDL has a great post on Larry Summers’ latest excuse for TBTF: Why Is Larry Summers Afraid of Having Many Small Banks? Summers says we can’t do that because that’s what was tried before the Great Depression, and it failed.

…if we broke up the megabanks and instead had many smaller regulated banks, it would be the end of America and the financial industry as we know it.

And that would be bad why? Scarecrow:

Funny, I always thought the smaller bank system, if that’s what it was, failed because Wall Street wasn’t sufficiently regulated, and the local bank runs happened because we didn’t have the FDIC at the time. So is Larry now saying that having the FDIC to take over smaller bank failures has been a failure?

And what’s he saying about needing diversified megabanks that lose money on risky stuff but loot, uh, borrow money from better managed activities? Surely he doesn’t mean to argue for letting the investment casino borrow from the government-guaranteed deposit-based divisions?

Reuters: Goldman emails: firm lauds profits from shorts

Goldman Sachs Group Inc officials discussed making “serious money” in 2007 off the subprime crisis as mortgages were starting to falter in rapid numbers, according to a collection of e-mails released by a Senate panel on Saturday.

“Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in an e-mail from November 2007.

“Sounds like we will make some serious money,” said Goldman Sachs executive Donald Mullen in a separate series of e-mails from October 2007 about the performance of deteriorating second-lien positions in a collateralized debt obligation, or CDO.

Continue reading

Kathleen Sebellius addresses recissions for breast cancer patients

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebellius recently wrote a letter to the CEO of Wellpoint informing her that:

Today’s report from Reuters indicating that your company “has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies” is disturbing, and this practice is deplorable.

As you know, the practice described in this article will soon be illegal.

Ms. Sebellius goes on to say in her letter.

The Affordable Care Act specifically prohibits insurance companies from rescinding policies, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact.

WellPoint should not wait to end the unconscionable practice of deliberately working to deny health insurance coverage to women diagnosed with breast cancer. I urge you to immediately cease these practices and abandon your efforts to rescind health insurance coverage from patients who need it most.

Only one problem, 2014 is not “soon” to a cancer patient.