Jun 16, 2015

June 16, 2015: Underscore the Point, Cabal in Washington, Future Calamity

As if to underscore the point made here in a recent post (1), former Labor Secretary Robert Reich had this to say about the headlong push by this White House to enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

“Why has President Obama been willing to spend so much political capital on the Trans Pacific Partnership? I have a guess. It begins with Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative who’s been in charge of this debacle. Froman went to Harvard Law School with Obama, but that’s not the only important connection. In the Clinton Administration, Froman was chief of staff to Bob Rubin when Rubin was Secretary of the Treasury. Rubin, you may recall, had convinced Clinton to pass NAFTA, kill the Glass-Steagall Act, and not regulate financial derivatives. Immediately after the Clinton Administration, Froman accompanied Rubin to Citigroup, where Rubin ran the bank’s executive committee while Froman became President and Chief Executive Officer of CitiInsurance and head of Emerging Markets Strategy. Froman remained at Citigroup until Obama tapped him to be U.S. Trade Representative. (Froman did well at the bank, receiving more than $7.4 million from January 2008 to 2009 alone.) Not incidentally, Froman was the person who first introduced Obama to Rubin.

When it comes to understanding influence in Washington, following the people is almost as important as following the money. (Sometimes they're the same thing.)” (2)

It’s more than a question of personal loyalty; it is that the cabal that has assumed power and now represents the core of Democratic operatives with experience in governance are products of a wrong-headed move under Clinton and his DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) to a Friedmanesque economic model.  One must remember that President Obama not only attended the same schools, but taught for a while at the University of Chicago, the very citadel of ignorance as personified by its long-standing relationship and support of Milton Freidman.  It’s more than following the advice of old and trusted friends; it’s more than a question of acquiescing to the group wisdom of the ‘old network’.  Obama really believes this economic tripe, that’s the issue and that’s what’s so unsettling.  Its one thing to react to the prevailing political winds and trim one’s sails accordingly, for a good sailor knows that he must tack in the wind.  It’s quite another to change your destinations altogether.   

Reich, of course, worked with these guys and knows them well.  What emerges from a careful reading of the records of recent presidential administrations is that we have a revolving door between government and the financial institutions and that no matter who wins, be it Democratic or Republican, the ensuing administration will be staffed by the same cast of characters, recruited from the same sources, advocating the same policies, predicting the same outcomes, irrespective of the successes or failures of previous experience.  

The post by Professor Reich is significant in two respects.  First, the network of the architects of the last and the next financial crisis runs deep.  As the economic and foreign policy teams of the Bushes and Clintons gather once again behind the ‘chosen’ candidates’ one thing is certain:  a rehash of the 1992 Bush-Clinton race will be a replay in more than name only; it will ensure more of the same.  Secondly, couched in passing reference and between the lines one finds that the failure to regulate financial derivatives, now estimated to total 710 trillion dollars (or roughly 10 times the economy of the United States), is yet one more failure of the Clintons to reign in on Wall Street and prevent a future national, if not a global, calamity. 


1.      See Post : June 14, 2015: Arteries of the Republic, Political Stenosis,In the Shadows, which describes part of the cabal that administer the budgets and the treasury no matter which party wins the White House.

2.      Robert Reich, Facebook post 6-15-15

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