Obama backs down on criticism of Wall Street CEOs

The comparison to baseball players really doesn’t work. For starters, the taxpayers didn’t have to bail out those players and fund their pay as they did with Wall Street. Also, the players are negotiating their salaries with owners whereas the Wall Street CEOs are negotiating their compensation with boards who are very friendly and often deeply linked. They may all be overpaid but when the government steps in to save the industry and then have that money fund lobbyist efforts to fight reform, there’s a difference.

Obama is clearly worried about Wall Street bailing and throwing their weight behind the GOP. His gentle words may be comforting to those on Wall Street but it’s hard to see how anyone else is going to have the stomach to listen to this drivel. Who will be next in line to have the pleasure of Obama folding? Rubbish.

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.”

NOTE FROM JOHN: More from Krugman, who isn’t pleased at all, and Greg Sargent, who thinks Obama’s message was more nuanced. Perhaps it was nuance, but it comes off as trying to be something to everybody, and it’s a bit of a garbled mess, message-wise. For a while now, from the beginning of the administration really, the White House has tried to play this odd game of issuing vague messages that everyone can read something good into, regardless of what side of the argument they’re on. The mixed messaging doesn’t appear to be working. Substantively (see health care reform). Or with the public at large.

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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