Obama: Bank Executives Making Millions Is Part of Free-Market System

Includes: GS, JPM
by: Edward Harrison

President Obama made a couple of comments in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek that, while potentially true, point yet again to someone out of touch with populist rage in America. It seems that Obama is still courting big business, especially Wall Street, after Republicans have said they are going after Wall Street money in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Here’s how Bloomberg reported the discussion:

President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay.

The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that while $17 million is “an extraordinary amount of money” for Main Street, “there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I’m shocked by that as well.”

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”

The problem is not that we have free markets in America, but rather that we have bailouts and crony capitalism. So Americans actually do begrudge people this kind of monetary reward. It has been obvious to me that the bailouts are a large part of why Obama’s poll numbers have been sinking. It’s not just the economy here – so unless the President can demonstrate he understands this, he is unlikely to win back a very large number of voters who see this issue as central to their loss of confidence in Obama.

Is it just me or does this sound like Obama just doesn’t get it?


Obama Doesn’t ‘Begrudge’ Bonuses for ‘Savvy’ Blankfein, Dimon – Bloomberg.com