Reporter's Note: President Obama met with some high-finance banker types to urge them to be more helpful to the recovery by making more loans available to taxpayers and easing up on some of the customer fees they are requiring. Ha! Good one! The subject of my daily letter to the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
While I appreciate your appeal to the better nature of those bankers, I suspect you are a bit like a rabbit appealing to the kinder side of wolf. Even if the wolf eats more slowly, the rabbit is still dinner.
The high finance crowd, (you know, the ones with gold Krugerrands stuffed into their penny loafers, and trophy wives who no longer bronze at the tanning salons, but instead are custom ordered with a platinum coating) has made it screamingly clear that they are not in the same boat with us; heaven forbid, they don’t even want to share our ocean. Oh sure, they’ll take our money to bail out their mistakes, and they’ll show up to have their picture taken with you, but if you think they have even the faintest glimmer of concern about the “greater good,” you’ve been sharing too many lunches with Geithner.
How many times do I have to say this? You keep hoping these guys and gals will see the error of their ways and realize their country needs help. You forget, however, that they don’t think they did anything wrong. Have you not heard these folks before Congress or in interviews? The way they tell it, their greed, manipulation of the markets, deceit, and gouging of customers had absolutely nothing to do with the problems we now face. CEO pay out of hand? Nonsense! Poor judgment in taking on outlandish risks to pad their own pockets? Poppycock!
What has happened, according to them, is some sort of freakish, economic natural disaster, in which they are victims too; huddling terrified in their corporate jets as they wing to Switzerland for dinner and a massage, worried sick that when the kids come home from boarding school for the holidays they may be forced to fly, gasp, commercial! (Uh…but not coach. Come on, let’s be serious.)
Whatever they said to you at your meeting, I can assure you what the real message was (and use your best Scrooge voice if you are reading this out loud): “Mr. President, we are not in the business of nation building or social assistance. We make money. For ourselves. And while we are proud defenders of the U.S., the truth is, we always thought that spelled ‘us,’ meaning…well, us…not all you rabble. Sure you bailed us out at a critical time by giving us a loan on terms that would make us leap from a cliff if we ever had to be so generous, and for that we happily say, ‘Thanks, suckers.’ But you did that for your own interests. And as the old saying goes, what have you done for us lately?”
You said that you “expect” them to help us rebuild? Yes, and I expect you to one day pick up the phone and give me a call. I expect to play lead guitar on the next Foo Fighters tour. I expect Lawrence Summers to flap his way through the night to bite into my ATM machine’s neck, and render my checking account immortal. And we see how all that is working out.
Seriously, you “expect” them to help? I’m sorry; I have to stop writing now. I’m laughing so hard I can’t see the keyboard.
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