Pity poor Wall Street billionaire bankers. No matter how many billions they toss at a problem, they just can't get any love.
December 12, 2013

As Wall Streeters awaken to their own irrelevance, Politico is riding to their rescue with this piece of fluff. Behold the "Lament of the Plutocrats."

They shared a big list of grievances they want us all to understand clearly.

They got less than they paid for

At both ends of the political spectrum, the titans of American finance today find themselves alienated from politics to a surprising degree. On the left, the rift has been precipitated by populist outrage and a damaged, difficult relationship with the White House. The discord and disappointment has simmered for years and is now boiling toward the surface on both sides, particularly for donors who felt burned and spurned by a White House they helped to elect. To understand just how far apart the president and the barons of Wall Street have drifted, consider that as a young senator in his first run for the presidency, Barack Obama took in $16 million from Wall Street donors, while last year, as the incumbent president, he was able to muster only $6 million.

Cats, but not fat ones?

Oh well, of course. Money talks, and it walks, too. But can a group really be this out of touch? Why yes, yes it can. Also, they really hate being called fat cats.

But the president’s Wall Street donor class felt stung again in September 2010, when Obama appeared on 60 Minutes and doubled down on his disdain for the rich guys, saying he “did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” Obama said “nothing had been more frustrating to him” than to “salvage a financial system at great expense to taxpayers” from a calamity “that was caused in part by completely irresponsible actions on Wall Street.” What’s more, he thundered, “People on Wall Street still don’t get it.”

Many in the financial sector saw the interview as the end of their relationship with the Obama administration. “The ‘fat cat’ and ‘throw everyone in jail’ stuff pretty much did it,” says one executive who later supported Mitt Romney. The White House was never inclined to apologize. “Sure, the rhetoric got hot,” one administration official who worked with the financial industry told us. “We were trying to pass financial reform, and they didn’t want it.”

What planet were these guys living on? Instead of being grateful they weren't passing time in a jail cell while their billions were being cheerfully redistributed, they're whining about being called fat cats? Not even a whiff of pushback from Politico, who gladly enables their pity party.

No schmooze, you lose!

The failed gambit reflects an important fact about the disillusioned money men: These Wall Street types prize personal relationships and ego stroking as much as they do any laundry list of policy initiatives. When we sought answers about the rift with the White House, many New York sources circled back to this; leaders in the finance industry, as in so many others, want to know they have friends and influence in high places—a feeling that’s not been forthcoming from the Obama administration. Lasry says Wall Street executives want both to schmooze with Obama—something the president doesn’t view as a smart use of his time—and to have the president act quickly on suggestions they make. “I always find it amazing that people on my side say they are going to go to the White House and tell the president what to do and he will listen and it will go into law the next week,” he says.

Chagrined that your "boy" won't jump to when ordered, Wall Street billionaire boys? That sounds like you're trying to keep Wall Street's history of functioning as a slave market alive, doesn't it?


Elizabeth Warren scares them to death

The worry on Wall Street is about how far to the left Clinton might have to drift to appease what’s been proclaimed the “Warren wing of the Democratic Party”—the vocal populists buoyed by Elizabeth Warren’s tough critiques of Wall Street greed, as well as by the recent election of liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio on their New York home turf. According to people in Clinton’s extended circle, John Podesta—the former White House chief of staff under her husband who this week joined the Obama White House for a year-long stint—was poised to work with Hillary Clinton on her messaging on income inequality, a role he seems less likely to fill while he's in government. Still, some say fears that Clinton will end up alienating financial sector donors the way Obama has, even if she tacks left, are overblown. “Wall Street folks are so happy about [having Clinton run] that they won’t care what she says,” says one well-placed Democrat.

Oh, pity the poor billionaires, who live in mansions the size of small cities because they leeched a little bit of everyone's wealth away from them. No one is on their side, no one is willing to share their burden of political irrelevance. Well, no one but Politico, anyway.

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