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With The Obama Administration Infested with Goldman Sachs People, How Real is the Obama/Democratic Attack on Big Banks?

The Obama administration is infested with people with ties to Goldman Sachs. Goldman was Obama’s biggest campaign contributor ($994,795) in 2008 and before that as a candidate to the Senate. Rahm took in $80,000 from Goldman Sachs as a Congressman and was on a $3,000 a month retainer from Goldman while he worked as Bill Clinton’s chief fund raiser. So how real is the Obama/Democratic party’s supposed new toughness on big banks?

Michelle Malkin in an excellent article at the New York Post writes that Obama’s administration is so infested with Goldies that:

The White House can no more disown Government Sachs than Obama can disown Chicago politics.

Malkin rightly questions the timing of Obama administration’s supposed new toughness on Goldman Sachs (just months before the November elections). It’s clear that not only the Obama administration but the Gordon Brown government in the U.K. realize that average citizens overwhelmingly are disgusted with big, predatory banks and their practices and that both Brown and now Obama want to steal some of that fire to use it in upcoming elections. The Democrats are even trying to raise money off of their new found toughness as Malkin documents:

Obama is headed to Wall Street tomorrow to demand "financial regulatory reform" — just as the US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil suit against Goldman Sachs for mortgage-related fraud.

Question the timing? Darn tootin’.

As the New York Post reported Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee immediately bought sponsored Internet ads on Google that direct Web surfers who type in "Goldman Sachs SEC" to Obama’s fund-raising site.

Malkin also lists some of the top people in the Obama administration with deep ties to Goldman Sachs. They include:

*Gary Gensler, a Goldman Sachs partner who is Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission head. Gensler is the guy who as a former Treasury official exempted the $58 trillion credit default market from oversight. Those financial instrumentals played a key role in the global economic downturn and led to billions of dollars in profits for banks like Goldman Sachs.

*Rahm Emanuel (see above), Mr. Sleeze personified who made millions as an investment banker.

*Mark Patterson, former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs who serves under Timothy Geithner as his top deputy and overseer of TARP bailout funds, $10 billion of which went to Goldman.

*Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser and head of the National Economic Counsel. Summers’s boss at Goldman was non other than Robert Rubin, former co-Chairman of Goldman and also former head of Citicorp (and I believe, the real POTUS while Obama is merely his spokesman). Summers has reaped nearly $2.8 million in speaking fees to banks and institutions he is now supposed to be regulating. Goldman Sachs paid him $135,000 for a single speech he gave in April, 2008, a very good investment repaid many times to Goldman.

*Timothy Geithner is also a Robert Rubin protoge. Geithner, of course, headed the New York Fed prior to the crisis and not only saw no storm clouds on the horizon, he also in 2008 ordered the bailed out AIG not to disclose its sweetheart payments to big banks including, you guessed it, Goldman Sachs.

But as good as Malkin’s article is, she doesn’t provide the full details of what has been called "Government Sachs". As of June, 2009, for instance, Goldman had more than 30 ex-government officials working as registered lobbyists including former Democratic House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) to represent its interests on issues related to TARP, according to Mother Jones.

Here are some other key Goldies in the Obama administration (you readers can help me fill out this list by providing names of others):

*Stephen Friedman, Chairman of Obama’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. According to Wikipedia, Friedman worked for much of his career with Goldman Sachs, holding numerous executive roles. He served as the company’s co-chief operating officer from 1987 to 1990, was the company’s co-chairman from 1990 to 1992, and the sole chairman from 1992 to 1994; he still serves on the company board.

Friedman was involved in controversy, as many of the Goldies have been in government service, involving his former employer. Wikipedia notes:

On May 7, 2009 Friedman resigned as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in response to criticism of his December 2008 purchase of $3 million of stock in Goldman Sachs.Friedman, who remains a member of Goldman Sachs’ board, came into violation of Federal Reserve policy when Goldman was converted to a bank holding company in September 2008, thereby placing it under the regulatory authority of the New York Fed. Friedman requested a waiver from this violation when the conversion occurred, which was granted roughly two and a half months later.

*Neel Kashkari, former Vice President of Goldman Sachs in San Francisco where he where he led Goldman’s Information Technology Security Investment Banking practice. Kashkari served under Treasury Secretary Paulson and was kept on by Obama after his inauguration for a limited period to work on TARP oversight.

*Diana Farrell, Diana Farrell is a Deputy Director of the National Economic Council in the administration of President Barack Obama. She formerly worked for Goldman Sachs in New York.

*Karen Kornbluh, sometimes called "Obama’s brain" is Obama’s Ambassador to the OECD. Kornbluh was Deputy Chief of Staff to Mr. Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin.

*Adam Storch, who worked for Goldman Sachs for 5 years reaching the position of Vice President in the Business Intelligence Group , is Obama’s Managing Executive of the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.

*Robert Hormats, the top economics official at Obama’s State Department, who spent the prior 27 years at Goldman Sachs, including as the Vice Chairman of Goldman’s international arm.

*Gene Sperling, prior to advising Timothy Geithner on bailouts, Sperling was paid the paltry sum of $887,727 by Goldman Sachs for one year of consulting work. Sperling, another acolyte of Robert Rubin’s raked in even more that year, according to William Grieder at the Nation:

[he was paid in addition] $480,051 as a director of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, plus $250,000 for his quarterly briefings to two hedge funds, plus the speaking gigs [$158,000] (including an appearance before the Stanford Group in Houston subsequently charged with running a Ponzi scheme). Meantime, his day job at the Council on Foreign Relations paid $116,653. A busy, busy wonk.

*Peter Orszag, Obama’s Budget Director was the founding director of the Hamilton Project, funded by Goldman Sachs and Robert Rubin. Wikipedia indicates that Robert Rubin, Goldman’s ex-head, was one of Orszag’s mentors.

*Jason Furman served as the second Director of the Hamilton Project after Peter Orszag’s departure for the Obama administration and he in turn left the Hamilton Project in June 2008 to direct economic policy for the Obama Presidential Campaign.

*Douglas Elmendorf replaced Furman as Director of the Hamilton Project and he in turn became Obama’s Director of the Congressional Budget Office in January 2009.

Note that the first 3 Directors of the Hamilton Project ALL serve in the Obama administration–while other journalists/writers have explored the links between Goldman Sachs and Obama, few have looked at this connection. Note again that the Hamilton Project was funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs. Note too that the current director of the Hamilton Project, its 4th since its founding in 2006, is Michael Greenstone. How long will it be before Greenstone goes to the Obama administration, making it a perfect 4 for 4 for Directors of the Goldman funded Hamilton Project?

*Barack Obama. Obama really owes his career to Goldman Sachs which was not only his biggest financial contributor when he ran for the presidency but also his biggest contributor when he ran for the Senate. Obama was essentially bought out by Goldman Sachs former head Robert Rubin as early as 2006. You can witness then Senator Obama paying lavish tribute to "my friend Bob [Rubin]" when the Rubin-Goldman Sachs sponsored Hamilton Project opened its doors as an embedded neoliberal think tank within the Brookings Institution. A video clip of Obama’s speech along with an excellent discussion of his ties to Goldman Sachs can be found at this FDL diary.

There is considerable evidence (including the above video clip of Obama himself speaking) to indicate that Rubin-Goldman Sachs hand selected Obama as a kind of spokesman for its unpopular causes and funded him as both a Senatorial and presidential candidate. See, for instance, Paul Street’s brilliant "Obama, As Predicted" essay. And David Sirota’s article on the founding of the Hamilton Project here. Another helpful FDL diary on Obama and the Hamilton Project (and links to Goldman) can be found here.

Obama, then, was a kind of "stealth candidate" or Trojan Horse, if you will: posing as a liberal-progressive, but in reality ready to advance Goldman’s financial and commercial interests which are anything but progressive. For more on Obama’s ties to the Hamilton Project and Robert Rubin/Goldman Sachs see this diary.

With all of these connections between Goldman Sachs and the Obama administration, including Obama himself, is there any doubt that the civil suit (note: the Obama administration has failed to bring a criminal case against the Goldman despite the urgings of Cong. Marcia Kaptur and 17 other Congresspeople) is anything but window dressing before the November election designed to fool the American people once again into thinking that Obama is some kind of populist-progressive?

Once again, Michelle Malkin gets it right in her revealing article, "All the President’s Goldman Men":

As Obama harangues Wall Street to clean up its house, all the president’s Goldman Sachs men have their feet on the coffee table at his.


1. If you know of other Goldies in the Obama adminstration, I would very much apreciate it if you would please provide their names/positions in your comments. Thanks in advance since I’m trying to compile a list! I have not found a complete/thorough one anywhere.

2. Michael Moore reports the following Congressman as behind Cong. Kaptur’s request for a criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs:

The following House Democrats have signed on to Kaptur’s letter: Jim McDermott (Wash.), Diane Watson (Calif.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), John Lewis (Ga.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Tom Perriello (Va.), Betty Sutton (Ohio), Jay Inslee (Wash.), Pete Stark (Calif.), Mike Honda (Calif.), John Salazar (Colo.), Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), David Loebsack (Iowa) and Bob Filner (Calif.).

3. Since this diary was written, McClatchy Newspapers has an excellent article up written by Greg Gordon called "Goldman’s White House Connections Raise Eyebrows". It is the lead story over at the Huffingtonpost.

Gordon writes this on Rahm Emanuel and his lucrative work that included cooperating with Goldman Sachs on one multimillion dollar deal:

One White House insider who knows something about how Wall Street does business is chief of staff Emanuel, who earned millions of dollars in investment banking after he left the Clinton White House. His work for the Chicago-based financial services firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. intersected with Goldman in at least one deal.

In 1999, Emanuel was a key player representing Unicom Corp., the parent of Commonwealth Edison, in forging its merger with Peco Energy Co. to create utility giant Exelon Corp. Goldman was also advising Unicom.

The White House declined immediate comment on that connection.

The same article reports repeated and continuous contact between the head of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, and Obama and key figures in his administration:

According to White House visitor logs, Blankfein was among the business leaders who attended an Obama speech on Feb. 13, 2009, and he also joined more than a dozen bank CEOs in a meeting with Obama on March 27, 2009.

Blankfein also was supposed be among the CEOs who met with Obama in December, but he and two others phoned in from New York, blaming inclement weather.

He and his wife, Laura, were listed on the logs among 438 presidential guests at the Kennedy Center Honors the previous week.

The logs also indicate that Blankfein met twice in 2009, on Feb. 4 and Sept. 30, with Summers, who was undersecretary of the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration when it was headed by Robert Rubin, a former Goldman CEO.

University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs in the same article described the incestuous relationship between Goldman Sachs and the Obama administration:

"almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.

The McClatchy newspaper article is well worth reading in its entirety even though it does not begin to mention all of the people from Goldman Sachs embedded in Obama’s administration.

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