No president has done more to help rich Wall Street executives than President Barack Obama. Whether it is through appointing conflicted Wall Street lawyers to lead the Justice Department or Wall Street’s chosen man to lead the Treasury Department, Obama has done everything he could to make sure the rich got richer. And it has worked, fantastically, the top 1% are even richer than they were before the crisis and the stock market has hit new highs. Wall Street made major investments in Candidate Obama and was repaid, with interest, from President Obama. It’s boom times for the already rich.
But now it seems, as his second and final term is coming to an end, Barack Obama has some regrets. Yesterday he gave a speech lamenting the historic increases in inequality he has presided over along with the lack of opportunities to those not born to wealth and privilege. Noting even that he and his wife Michelle relied on programs to advance themselves that are now drifting out of reach for most Americans. Apparently, Obama really disapproves of Obamanomics:
The problem is that alongside increased inequality, we’ve seen diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years. A child born in the top 20 percent has about a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top. A child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top. He’s 10 times likelier to stay where he is.
In fact, statistics show not only that our levels of income inequality rank near countries like Jamaica and Argentina, but that it is harder today for a child born here in America to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our wealthy allies, countries like Canada or Germany or France. They have greater mobility than we do, not less.
We know Mr. President. We know.
That’s actually why hope and change found an audience in 2008. Americans were aware that the American Dream was dying and wanted you to save it. Instead you betrayed the people and allowed those who caused the crash to loot some more. You helped Wall Street go on a second crime wave while your Justice Department looked the other way.
The historic inequality is not a result of a skills gap or technology – it’s the result of having a parasitic class at the top of the economic pyramid that commits massive crimes and instead of facing punishment is granted subsidies.
So let me end by addressing the elephant in the room here, which is the seeming inability to get anything done in Washington these days. I realize we are not going to resolve all of our political debates over the best ways to reduce inequality and increase upward mobility this year or next year or in the next five years.
Wait. Stop the tape. Rewind the presidency back to 2009.
President Obama was at the zenith of his power at the beginning of his first term (when every president is most powerful) and had a Democratic controlled House and, after the Specter flip, a 60 vote majority in the Senate. One party control as much as is ever possible under our system. What did he do with the power to address inequality and social mobility when it counted? Nothing.
When it mattered, when there was the opportunity to make real change, Obama spent his political capital rebuilding Wall Street’s hegemony and orchestrating a health insurance industry bailout bill. A bill the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries practically wrote.
Now as the clock winds down and Obama’s power drains away he decides to play the progressive? Not buying it.