Obama’s fat cats

The president says Wall Street doesn’t get it. He has it backward. Wall Street gets it. He still doesn’t.

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Wall Street knows that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but faux anger cannot hurt me.” Wall Street believes the president can be rolled, Congress can be bought, consumers can be screwed, jobs can be destroyed, the nation can be harmed, the public can be enraged — and it can continue these practices without limit and without shame and pay itself gigantic bonuses for it, and nobody will fight to change this.

The president famously told bankers he stood between them and pitchforks. Presumably he meant the pitchforks are country rubes like myself and 250 million Americans who think that when troops give their lives to serve our nation, bankers who get huge bailouts might ask what they can do for our country, instead of enriching themselves to levels that historians will discuss for a hundred years.

It is not the job of the president to protect the fat cats from the proper wrath of the people. It is the job of the president to protect the people from the improper abuse of the fat cats.

And now: Congress may pass a healthcare bill that would help insurance CEOs making $10 million a year spend a generation raising premiums even further, while certain senators who take their money work to defeat a public option that would serve the nation and lower the deficit and that is supported by a majority of the people.

And now: Drug companies that concluded a secret deal with the White House to raise drug prices by almost 10 percent work to defeat proposals to allow import of lower-priced drugs that would serve the consumer and lower the deficit, and that are supported by a majority of the people.

And now: The House, in the service of fat-cat bankers, with the support of many Democrats and Republicans, defeated an amendment that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to save homeowners.

And now, after the passage of a credit card bill that I stood virtually alone among Democrats in opposing, credit card companies raise rates to the skies. They gouge customers into the ground. They decimate small businesses. They destroy American jobs.

And now: The Treasury secretary, who treats his office like Wall Street on the Potomac, schemes to give the bailout money back to the banks, without conditions, so they can loan it to small businesses!

I view my job as a columnist and someone who may appear in the media and advise elected officials not to be an apologist for those who are elected, but to give voice, as honorably as I can, to those who elected them.

I have been warning about the sins of our modern Gilded Age for years. Whether other insiders like it or not, I am giving voice to voters who are madder than hell and not going to take it anymore.

This town is run by the fat cats. I plant my flag with the pitchforks, for change we can believe in.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.

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