AP / Carolyn Kaster - Shake on it: President
Barack Obama welcomes his new White House Chief of Staff William Daley in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 6 in Washington
While it is widely recognized that the banking meltdown has left enormous economic pain and political upheaval in its wake, it is amazing that the folks who created this mess are rewarded with ever more important positions in our government. Yet the recent appointments of Gene Sperling and William Daley, key Wall Street-connected perps of this crisis, to the most critical positions in the Obama White House have not generated much controversy.
The justification for the media's indifference appears to be that the new appointees can hardly be worse than the hustlers they replaced. From its beginning, the Obama administration has been flooded with veterans of the Clinton White House who pushed through the radical deregulation that Wall Street had long sought and were rewarded with fat fees from the big banks when they left government.
Sperling was a key proponent, back in the Clinton Treasury Department, of the deregulation of the financial industry that precipitated this crisis, but his then-boss, Lawrence Summers, the man he will now replace as Barack Obama's top economic adviser, was certainly even more culpable. Both were well rewarded for their efforts. Summers received $8 million in Wall Street compensation back in 2008 while he was an adviser to candidate Obama, and during that same year Sperling got $2.2 million from his various consulting activities, mostly for banks that ran into trouble. His main employer was Goldman Sachs--which paid him $887,727 for advice on, of all things, charitable giving while Goldman's dubious business practices were leaving many around the world more desperately in need of charity.
So, too, the case of Daley filling the shoes of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff. Both are Democratic Party operatives with long histories of parlaying political influence into private wealth. But Daley, a scion of the Chicago machine that was so instrumental in the rise of Obama, is an even more persistent combatant on the side of Wall Street against the pubic interest. After serving as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration, where he developed a particularly strong connection with Enron before that company's implosion, Daley went into the private sector, where he played a major role in making the large corporation's case against the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 1982, designed to prevent another Enron debacle.