By Pam Martens: April 11, 2013
If President Obama is trying to make it clear that he reports to the 1 percent, not the average Americans who elected him, he’s earning an A+ on his report card.
At 6:46 p.m. last evening, the White House sent out the President’s schedule for today. One item on the agenda reads as follows: “Later in the morning, the President will meet with members of the Financial Services Forum as part of the organization’s daylong Spring Meeting. This meeting in the Roosevelt Room is closed press.” There is no mention in this press announcement that the President will be meeting with the CEOs of the too-big-to-fail banks – certainly a detail worthy of the public’s attention.
Early this morning, the Wall Street Journal’s link on the front page of its web site to its story on the President’s meet-up with members of the Financial Services Forum tells us the following: “PAGE UNAVAILABLE — The document you requested either no longer exists or is not currently available.” Fortunately, Google has cached the article and from it we learn that Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase (whose firm is under an FBI investigation for losing $6.2 billion of depositors’ money in a derivatives trading scheme) is expected to meet with the President at the White House today as part of the Financial Services Forum. Also expected to attend is Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America.
At the same moment the President is meeting with the CEOs of these firms, an investigative hearing will be playing out in the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, part of the Senate Banking Committee, on whether these same banks and others corrupted the process of a regulatory mandate to review their foreclosure files for evidence of fraud and abuse by directly paying and interacting with the consultants hired to do the work.
The optics of the President meeting with executives from a Wall Street lobby group one day after submitting a budget proposal to Congress that would raise income taxes on the middle class while cutting Social Security benefits on the elderly, veterans and disabled is apparently of no concern to the President, unless his “closed press” blackout doesn’t hold. It could be a fluke that out of a hundred other headline links on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, only this one doesn’t work. Or it could be that the comments were so savage that the article and comments were removed. Also possible is that those ubiquitous invisible hands asked to have the article removed from the front page and someone forgot to take down the headline link.
The Financial Services Forum is a lobby group composed of 19 CEOs of the too-big-to-fail banks, both U.S. and foreign, and other large financial services firms like Goldman Sachs, AIG, and GE Capital. The Forum is not bashful about its lobbying agenda. According to the lobby disclosure document it filed with the Senate last year, it doesn’t believe big banks should be broken up: “The Forum opposes legislation to preemptively dismantle or limit the activities of well-capitalized and well-managed financial institutions, haircuts on secured creditors to financial institutions in the course of a resolution, and punitive taxes or levies on financial institutions.”
The Forum is also against the so-called Robin Hood tax, a financial transaction tax that would amount to a fraction of one percent on each trade in derivatives, stocks and bonds, stating in its lobby disclosure document that “The Forum believes that imposing taxes and fees on the financial sector will restrict the availability of credit, increase the tax burden on investors and impede the ability of the financial sector to create jobs…The Forum supports maintaining the existing tax rates on dividends and capital gains.”
Wall Street could not have found a better representative for its agenda than the man the President has installed as Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, leading to the obvious suspicion that it was Wall Street that installed him. Lew just returned from a two-day whirlwind tour of meetings with members of the European Commission and finance ministers to urge against the imposition of a financial transaction tax as is currently planned by 11 European countries. Lew has also stated in Congressional hearings that he does not believe the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which prevented the creation of giant institutions housing Wall Street casinos and insured deposits, led to the 2008 financial collapse.
Lew came to the Obama administration directly from Citigroup where he was an executive at the time it became insolvent and required the largest bailout of any Wall Street bank – over $2.5 trillion in low-cost loans, $45 billion in equity infusions and over $300 billion in asset guarantees. Lew accepted from Citigroup, and has not returned to the taxpayer, $940,000 in a bonus which came from bailout funds.
As the President meets with Lew’s cronies on Wall Street, Lew will be appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, and later in the day before the Senate Finance Committee, to shill for the President’s budget and its embedded agenda of making the poor and middle class of America pay for the economic crimes of Wall Street.