WHITE HOUSE SIGNALS ANGER WITH WALL STREET…. The heads of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and 10 other big banks will stop by the White House today for what’s being billed as a “serious talk.” By all accounts, President Obama intends to pressure the executives on everything from increasing loan opportunities to salaries and bonuses.
The president offered a big hint on “60 Minutes” as to what he might tell the bankers. “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” Obama said. “Nothing has been more frustrating to me this year than having to salvage a financial system at great expense to taxpayers that was precipitated, that was caused in part by completely irresponsible actions on Wall Street. And I’ve spoken out repeatedly about this.”
The president added, in describing bankers, “They don’t get it. They’re still puzzled why is it that people are mad at the banks. Well, let’s see. You guys are drawing down ten million, twenty million dollar bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it’s gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem. And we’ve got ten percent unemployment. Why do you think people might be a little frustrated?”
Also note, it’s not just the president expressing these concerns. Lawrence Summers, the chief White House economic adviser, said yesterday that bankers “need to recognize that they’ve got obligations to the country after all that’s been done for them, and there is a lot more they can do.”
This morning, David Axelrod, a leading Obama aide, added that Obama will tell the executives today, “You guys were part of the problem. You helped create an economic crisis … but now you have to be part of the solution and you have to accelerate lending to credible small businesses.”