Obama shamefully lines pockets with $400K for Wall Street speech
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It has now been revealed that former President Barack Obama is receiving a $400,000 fee to give a paid speech to Wall Street trading and investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Has he no shame?

Lets agree about one thing regarding Obama: he sure gives great speeches! Remember his speeches about "hope and change" and "change we can believe in" that moved the nation in the 2008 campaign?

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What Obama did not include in his 2008 speeches about "change we can believe in" was that, while he was lifting spirits of voters with rousing oratory about change, he was raising a lot of money from big banks and Wall Street firms and planning to repay their support by naming Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary almost immediately after his "change we can believe in" campaign triumphed at the polls.



Before Obama named him Treasury secretary, Geithner had been one of the worst presidents of the New York Fed in its history, presiding over the Wall Street scandals and misdeeds that led to the financial crash that helped Obama be elected president. After he left his post as Treasury secretary, Geithner moved to enhance his wealth as president and managing director of a major private equity firm on Wall Street.

In between, while Geithner was Treasury secretary, he successfully pushed Obama to propose modestly small stimulus and financial regulation packages, which led to the slowest economic recovery in many decades, while the Wall Street traders and executives that caused the crash continued to flourish. 

This contributed to the backlash across the country that led to Republicans controlling the House, the Senate and the majority of governorships and state legislatures after eight years of Obama as president.

Obama was never the profoundly transforming change agent he promised to be. He was, instead, a rather conventional old-style politician who gave Kennedy-style speeches without Kennedy-style commitment, uttering platitudes about change while he raised huge money from Wall Street and named Wall Street favorites to key posts in his presidency. Sound familiar?

In his regard, Obama was similar in strategy to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE, who repeatedly attacked Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil Trump MORE's ties to Goldman Sachs and then named enough Goldman alumni to his government to make observers wonder whether they were watching a Trump cabinet meeting or a Wall Street board of directors meeting.

While Obama promised change that did not happen, Trump promised to drain a swamp that he has taken to new depths with his arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Mar-a-Lago, which share the distinction that foreign special interest lobbyists and foreign agents of influence can visit in secret without public disclosure.

A cynic might suggest that at least Obama took the Wall Street money and rewarded his financial benefactors with relatively weak Wall Street regulations and little punishment for Wall Street misdeeds, while his successor criticized Wall Street money and then named the kind of Wall Street execs he criticized to his cabinet.

Trump also moved to destroy even the modest financial regulation Obama created and to lower taxes on Wall Street firms as much as the Republican Congress will agree to.

Shame on Obama for lining his pockets with a $400,000 check paid for a speech to a Wall Street firm. Obama should donate the $400,000 to a fund that helps Syrian children whose suffering was made much worse by his weak and inept policy toward Syria throughout his presidency.

Obama says he will travel across the country to inspire young people to participate in politics.

He should include in his lectures to young people the thought that they should not turn out like he did, when he promised transforming reform of Wall Street and change we can believe in, and turned out to be another guy who took the same questionable Wall Street money for the same questionable reasons as the Republicans he attacked in his campaign to become president.

 

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


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.