Rolling Stone: Obama’s Big Sellout

It’s the weekend, so if you have the extra minutes (and a strong stomach) this is well worth your investment of time. It details the change from Obama’s populist pitch on the campaign trail to the Citi/Wall Street/Robert Rubin takeover. One of Obama’s first moves was to bring in the same old crowd who created the financial crisis and let them run the show. There has still not been any recognition that the system was wrong. Even with the mild reform just passed in the House, there is a belief that yes, the system is fine so don’t rock the boat. (Forget that the boat is taking on water and sinking.) How can anyone in their right mind think that throwing almost $24 trillion at the banks suggests it’s a system that works?

In Congress, we’ve come to expect little because they’ve been there all along for Wall Street. The poor excuse for reform only reinforces that point. In the case of Obama, we expected so much more after hearing about “change” every day. If anything, it looks as though there’s a terrible fear of change. Here’s the start of the Obama economic team and it only gets worse. Read on

That was the day the jubilant Obama campaign announced its transition team. Though many of the names were familiar — former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, long-time Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett — the list was most notable for who was not on it, especially on the economic side. Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist who had served as one of Obama’s chief advisers during the campaign, didn’t make the cut. Neither did Karen Kornbluh, who had served as Obama’s policy director and was instrumental in crafting the Democratic Party’s platform. Both had emphasized populist themes during the campaign: Kornbluh was known for pushing Democrats to focus on the plight of the poor and middle class, while Goolsbee was an aggressive critic of Wall Street, declaring that AIG executives should receive “a Nobel Prize — for evil.”

But come November 5th, both were banished from Obama’s inner circle — and replaced with a group of Wall Street bankers. Leading the search for the president’s new economic team was his close friend and Harvard Law classmate Michael Froman, a high-ranking executive at Citigroup. During the campaign, Froman had emerged as one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers, bundling $200,000 in contributions and introducing the candidate to a host of heavy hitters — chief among them his mentor Bob Rubin, the former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who served as Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton. Froman had served as chief of staff to Rubin at Treasury, and had followed his boss when Rubin left the Clinton administration to serve as a senior counselor to Citigroup (a massive new financial conglomerate created by deregulatory moves pushed through by Rubin himself).

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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