Washington Babylon — March 24, 2009, 9:16 am

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: Wall Street and Bill Clinton

“The Obama administration, after months of criticizing Wall Street, has been scrambling to woo top bankers and financiers to back its latest bailout plan,” the Wall Street Journal reported today. “In recent days, in spite of public furor over huge bonuses paid at American International Group Inc., the administration has concluded that it needs the private sector to play a central role in fixing the economy. So over the weekend, the White House worked to tone down its Wall Street bashing and to win support from top bankers for the bailout plan announced Monday, which will rely on public-private investments to soak up toxic assets.”

The story continued:

The stock market continued to drop, causing some unease inside the White House. At one morning meeting of the senior staff in the Roosevelt Room, an official turned over in dismay a newspaper with a headline that blared: “Obama Bear Market.”

White House aides returned to some key Wall Street fund-raisers who had helped give credibility to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign. Some had complained about lack of access in the early days of his White House, according to several of them. Among those called were Robert Wolf, president of UBS AG’s investment bank, and Mark Gallogly, co-founder of Centerbridge Partners, a New York private-investment firm. Both of them are plugged into the financial world and could support the policy on Wall Street…

In recent weeks, the administration has been developing a consumer-lending facility aimed at increasing the availability of auto loans, student loans and credit cards. Its idea is to provide $1 trillion in financing to private investors who buy securities backing those consumer loans. “Outreach is operating on all cylinders,” says an administration official. Treasury officials have held conference calls with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC, Sallie Mae Inc., BlackRock Inc. and other financial firms.

Haven’t I read this story somewhere before? Oh, right — it’s straight out of the Clinton years. A retrospective account tells the story of the Clinton administration’s early days:

Promises of spending on education, public works and a middle-class tax cut fell by the wayside as advisers led by Robert Rubin, who later became Treasury secretary, convinced the new president the best thing he could do for the economy was to show investors his resolve on fiscal discipline.

“`You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?” Clinton raged at aides, according to journalist Bob Woodward’s book, “The Agenda.”

Note: Tom Toles captures the essence of the toxic assets — er, legacy loans — plan.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

April 2017

You Can Run …

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Never Would I Ever

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The March on Everywhere

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Defender of the Community

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Echt Deutsch

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Boy Without a Country

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The March on Everywhere·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph (detail) © Nima Taradji/Polaris
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Defender of the Community·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Illustration (detail) by Katherine Streeter
Article
The Boy Without a Country·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
Asphalt Gardens·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In a city that is rapidly pricing out the poor, NYCHA’s housing projects are a last bastion of affordable shelter, with an average monthly rent of $509
Photograph (detail) © Samuel James

Number of mine-detecting monkeys erroneously reported to have been given to the United States by Morocco in March:

2,000

The Pacific trade winds are weakening as a result of global warming.

In the United States, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee after 18 hours of deliberation, during which time the Republican members of Congress passed around candy.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today