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Obama channels his inner populist and attacks bankers


President Obama channeled his inner populist this morning, announcing that he wants to impose a fee on banks to help recover taxpayer funds used to rescue Wall Street.

In announcing the new fees, Obama was harsh to the institutions whose greed and speculation drove the economy downhill and required billions of dollars of taxpayer aid. Much of the money has been repaid, but the administration estimates that more than $117 billion will be lost and it hopes to recover those funds from the new fee over 10 years.

“My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed,” Obama said this morning. “And my determination to achieve this goal is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people -- who have not been made whole, and who continue to face real hardship in this recession.”

“We want our money back,” Obama insisted.

The political adage is: “Taxes are never popular.” But that old saw should really be, “Taxing me is wrong, but taxing someone else is OK.” Because taxes levied on political unpopular targets are easier to pass.

And bankers, never very popular, are an especially easy target right....

... now. According to Gallup's annual Honesty and Ethics poll, taken in the fall, just 19% of those polled spoke well of bankers, a significant drop from a few years ago when 35% spoke well of the group.

That put bankers significantly below nurses, the top-rated group with a better than four out of five approval rating. Still, bankers could feel some comfort since they did better than lawyers at 13%.

Approval is just one test of political might and in many cases not even the most important one. Bankers and their lobbyists have flooded the halls of Congress recently as they fight back against tough financial regulation.

Obama is urging them to do the right thing and accept tighter rules.

“We are already hearing a hue and cry from Wall Street, suggesting that this proposed fee is not only unwelcome but unfair, that by some twisted logic, it is more appropriate for the American people to bear the cost of the bailout rather than the industry that benefited from it, even though these executives are out there giving themselves huge bonuses,” Obama said.

“What I’d say to these executives is this: Instead of setting a phalanx of lobbyists to fight this proposal or employing an army of lawyers and accountants to help evade the fee, I’d suggest you might want to consider simply meeting your responsibility,” the president said.

-- Michael Muskal

Photo: Obama leaves White House podium  Jan. 14, 2010, with, from left, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, and Budget Director Peter Orszag, after he announced a new fee on big banks to recover up to $120 billion in taxpayers' money used to prop up corporations during the economic crisis. Credit: AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

Comments () | Archives (6)

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Well if banks can charge interest rates, why not charge banks fees when its the american tax payer helping to keep them afloat, all banks should contribute! If banks dont want these fees, then start acting like business people. I always thought leaders of companys especially those making lots of money have some insight into the future and are supposed to be analytical, oh I forgot these are so called experts(LOL). These CEO's and the bank board members should be held for treason in almost collapsing the economy, though in my mind they did! I don't feel sorry for these people who created all kinds of schemes to try and reap big profits and screw people and they say... Im sorry we didnt know... BS try another excuse! To me they are no less Bernard Madoff's and his ponzi scheme. Plus if the goverment would crack down on the credit reporting agencies it might help to get loans flowing again, their are Americans that have paid off their debts 100% and are faced with a poor credit report for missing a few payments, but in the end they paid it off and are completely out of debt!

I think this is an interesting story, but I'm doubtful that these banks won't find a way around any fee imposed on them. At any rate only time will tell.

So let's see Obama's list:

insurance companies bad!
!bankers bad!
oil companies bad!

Government good!
Spreading the wealth good!
Welfare roll good!
Sense of entitlement good!
Obama and cronies good!

I don't think so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Banks are private sector, Obama would rather support the public
sector. Bankers need to start training their personnel to work with concrete to build roads and highways, then they might receive money from Obama's stimulus plan!

Hugo Obama and his dumocratic allies have a lot of explaing to do. Do I really have to prepare for rural living?

First, the government rushed thru legislation to GIVE the banks money so the system wouldn't fail. Now they want the money back. Shouldn't the government not given the money in the first place?

Second, the banks are just gonna pass the cost of the taxes along to us, their customers. So much for Obama's pledge of no increased taxes to the middle class.

This administration has no guidance. They are just making it up as they go along. What idiots.

Here's an idea: do like Ron Paul - just follow the Constitution. DUH!!!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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