The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter; they think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back. The time for that politics is over. It's time to turn the page.
That line from candidate Obama is worth recalling in light of an interesting AP story today about Treasury Secretary and Bailoutmeister Tim Geithner, headlined, “Mr. Geithner, Wall Street is on line 1 (again)”:
They are a small cadre of businessmen who have known and worked with Geithner for years, whose multibillion-dollar companies all survived the economic crisis with help from U.S. taxpayers….
The calendars, obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act, offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the continued influence of three companies — Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — whose executives can reach the nation's most powerful economic official on the phone, sometimes several times a day.
Pro-bailout blogger Simon Johnson has a good commentary (“Too politically connected to fail,”) on this story:
Geithner’s phone calls were primarily to and from people he knew well already – who had cultivated a relationship with him over the years, shared nonprofit board memberships, and participated in the same social activities. These are close professional colleagues and in some cases, presumably, friends.
The Obama administration had to rescue large parts of the financial sector, given the situation they inherited. But it absolutely did not have to run the rescue in this exact fashion – bending over backwards to be nice to leading bankers and allowing their banks to become even larger.