Anxious for any issue to jump start his bid for reelection, President Obama has chosen to position himself as a raving populist and promote the Occupy movement. Liberals view the movement as their own Tea Party, while the White House sees it as a possible boon to Obama’s reelection campaign.
Seeking to capture the spirit of the movement, the president has come out in full support of Occupy Wall Street. This hypocritical move is not surprising from a president trying to make himself appear as a “man of the people” and decry the excess of Wall Street.
Obama told reporters that the movement reflects the “frustrations the American people feel.” With the housing market’s slow recovery, unemployment statistics showing no sign of receding and the European debt crisis, the economy looks like it’s headed for a double-dip recession. There is no way the president wants to talk about these grim facts on the campaign trail.
He lacks the ability to discuss how his own policies have helped the economy, resorting to talking about how the 2009 stimulus package has “saved” jobs when pressed by reporters and voters. Obama proposed another stimulus in September that has failed to pass Congress, and used the word “support” to describe how the legislation would impact jobs.
President Obama is now going after Wall Street.
The same president who supported the bailouts of the banks at the end of the Bush administration is now going after those same institutions. The same president who orchestrated the government’s restructuring of the auto industry and supported the auto bailout is now attacking big business.
The hypocrisy continues. President Obama received more money from Wall Street in 2008 than any other candidate has in the past. He chose Timothy Geithner, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a creature of Wall Street, as his Treasury Secretary. Geithner was head of the New York Fed while financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers collapsed. MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan and others have accused Geithner of covering up the Wall Street excesses that led to the financial turmoil of the last few years.
Then there was Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act). By mandating that all Americans purchase health insurance, providers are set to record even higher profits than in the past. The companies can raise premiums to cover the other new mandates, such as no longer being able to deny insurance based on pre-existing conditions, in addition to gaining millions of new subscribers. This does not benefit the 99 percent.
The recent Solyndra scandal further shows President Obama’s willingness to prop up the very same corporations that the Occupy Wall Street movement decries. The Obama administration gave a $535 billion loan from the government to the solar company, only for the company to file for bankruptcy. Obama visited the company and used it to promote green jobs.
The scandal brought to light the existence of the Federal Financing Bank, a bank operated by the government to provide loans to companies that Congress and the president would like to see succeed. The bank uses unlimited taxpayer dollars to engage in this loan practice, and the Obama administration has been more than willing to lend out the tax dollars collected from the 99 percent to prop up corporations such as Solyndra.
President Obama is emerging as a crony populist for the purpose of getting reelected.
He knows he cannot completely disavow Wall Street, as shown by his campaign’s recent hire of former Wall Street lobbyist Broderick Johnson as an adviser. Obama also needs a lot of the Wall Street moneymen he raised from in 2008 to donate again in 2012 in order to meet his campaign’s fundraising goals.
But in the cornfields of Iowa and the small towns of Ohio, Obama will act as one of the 99 percent, angry at Wall Street for the problems the people on Main Street are facing due to the prolonged economic downturn.
He will try to paint probable Republican nominee Mitt Romney as being part of the Wall Street crowd due to Romney’s past association with Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm.
All of this is an attempt to distract the American people from the real issues going on in the country.
President Obama wants to blame Wall Street for the lack of economic recovery to shield himself from criticisms of his economic policies.
The problem for Obama is that his public rhetoric about Wall Street does not measure up to his record.
The rhetoric is desperation by the campaign to change Obama into the underdog in the race, fighting against the one percent. This insincere political strategy aims to take advantage of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the millions of Americans still looking for jobs.
All of this will not get past the American people. We know that President Obama has pursued government policies that are not getting Americans back to work, but blaming Wall Street may be the only political move the president has left.
Tyler is a sophomore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.