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RentEconomist Jonathan Gruber’s Ties to Goldman Sachs/Hamilton Project/Obama

9:17 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

We’ve all heard in recent days about a prominent gay basher hiring a male prostitute from RentBoy, ostensibly to "carry his bags" but in reality to give him "the long stroke" on a steamy European holiday.

In my far less titillating research on the Hamilton Project (see work listed below), I have come across some interesting ties between MIT economist Jonathan Gruber and the Hamilton Project. Gruber–it turns out–carries bags for the Obama administration and the Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin-funded Hamilton Project. Gruber is a RentEconomist ready and seemingly willing to take any economic position (pardon the RentBoy inspired pun) you might want, for money that is, lots of it as Emptwheel has shown.

Readers here at FDL are doubtless aware of Gruber because of the fine work done by Emptywheel and Jane H. on health care.

Emptywheel wrote this in January, 2010:

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber has been the go-to source that all the health care bill apologists point to to defend otherwise dubious arguments. But he has consistently failed to disclose that he has had a sole-source contract with the Department of Health and Human Services since June 19, 2009 to consult on the “President’s health reform proposal.”

He is one source for the claim that the excise tax will result in raises for workers (though his underlying study is in-apt to the excise tax question). He is the basis for the argument that the Senate bill reduces families’ risk–even if it remains totally unaffordable.

Emptywheel went on to point out that while Gruber was providing intellectual support for Obama’s health care proposals, he was simultaneously taking in lots of money from Obama’s HHS Department. Money to the tune of $392,600. It’s all there in her seminal diary, "Jonathan Gruber Failed to Disclose His $392,600 Contracts with HHS."

But while I have been doing research recently on the links between the Obama government and Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs and the think tank they founded, The Hamilton Project, I have found that there are Obama-Gruber-Rubin/Goldman Sachs/Hamilton Project connections going back to 2006.

A search of the Hamilton Project’s own web site reveals 21 connections spread over three pages: connections between the MIT-based economist and the Hamilton Project. That includes papers given at the project, books and events attended.

Perhaps the most important of these was at the launch of the Hamilton project back on April 5, 2006. Who attended the launch? Well, Robert Rubin, ex-head of Goldman Sachs was there, of course, because he and Goldman provided the bucks for the Hamilton Project. It’s a neo-liberal think tank cleverly hidden like a Trojan Horse within the Brookings Institution, which is generally seen by the press as "liberal".

Who else was there? Yes, RentEconomist Gruber was there; in fact he was a panel presenter. Who else?

None other than a young Senator from Illinois by the name of Barack Obama. RentSenator Obama gave a speech (you can see a video of it here as well as full information on the launch) at the Hamilton Project in which he thanked "my friend, Bob" [Rubin], and launched into a defense of NAFTA and the need for more NAFTAs as well as a need for cuts in entitlements (like social security). So is it any wonder that Obama has appointed to his budget cutting commission two people (Alice Rivlin and Anne Fudge) who espouse the same Hamilton project/Robert Rubin line and who have ties to the Hamilton Project/Brookings?

"He who pays gets to call the tune" applies not only to RentBoys. In this case, Robert Rubin-Goldman Sachs are paying and calling the tune. Rubin also made opening remarks at the launch.

Who else was in attendance for the Hamilton Project’s launch in addition to Obama, Robert Rubin and RentEconomist Gruber? A virtual Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs people, all budget hawks when it comes to entitlements. The moderator of the panel discussions at the launch was none other than Peter Orszag, the first Director of the Hamilton Project now in the Obama Administration as his Budget Director. Another panelist was RentEconomist, Austan Goolsbee, then an economist with the University of Chicago, now on Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Other people at the launch of significance included Strobe Talbott and Roger Altman. Both have huge connections in the Democratic party and with the Obama administration. Also, there, the Hamilton Project’s second Director, Jason Furman who would later serve as a chief economic adviser to Obama in his presidential campaign.

Let’s return to RentEconomist Gruber. His presentation was in a panel with Goolsbee’s; the panel topic was "Innovative Policy Ideas." There is a link to his speech here and you can read the entire transcript of his talk here.

Here’s a sampling of "Gruber’s ideas". I put that in quotes because he himself in his paper admits the ideas are those pushed by Peter Orszag. Significantly, they also are those of Barack Obama’s, the Hamilton project’s, Robert Rubin’s and of course, Obama’s deficit reduction committee:

"I’m going to be talking today about a proposal that I have developed with Peter Orszag and Bill Gale. They really deserve most of the credit. …What is the problem? Americans are leaving work earlier but living longer. Social Security was not designed to be a full income replacement. It never was. It is under, as we know, enormous financing pressure. Employer-provided pensions are disappearing. And most importantly, probably, the enormous rise in health care costs for the elderly are going to continue and place Medicare in jeopardy."

One of the RentEconomist’s "fixes" to this "social security problem" (actually social security at present doesn’t have an economic problem and if it did, it could be easily fixed by raising the limit of the social security tax on earnings to include all earnings but that would hit people like Robert Rubin hard) is essentially to privitize social security. Hence, Gruber wants each person to have a private annuity partly supported by the government. Note that there is a high probability that such a policy would create even more wealth for Rubin and Goldman Sachs who doubtless would have their fingers in the creation and administration of such annuities.

It bears repeating that the above views are also those of Barack Obama, the Hamilton project, Robert Rubin and, of course, Obama’s deficit reduction committee. He’s stacked that committee just as he stacked health care reform by taking single payer/the public option off the table. See the last article in the readings below for evidence that Obama has packed his commission with "social security looters".

With RentEconomist Gruber we see the circle coming full. Robert Rubin and Goldman set up a think tank that really is a Trojan Horse for their neo-liberal ideas: more free trade pacts, outsourcing jobs, cutting entitlements and cutting restrictions on financial/banking services.

Presto, we have the Hamilton Project.

It then invites nominally independent "experts", RentExperts like Gruber who are paid to come and give speeches and deliver papers that support the party line. They also bring on ambitious politicians (like Obama and later Joe Biden) to beat the drum. All the while, money and influence are flowing from a hidden source: Rubin and Goldman Sachs. They also bring on board journalists (like from ABC news) to spread the word. They float ideas that will make more money for themselves. In short, what we see here is the influence of money and power that completely subvert democratic institutions. Note that Obama has essentially outsourced to his independently appointed deficit reduction committee a task that should be Congress’s.

Gruber’s RentEconomist work with the Hamilton project didn’t, of course, end with the project’s launch. Other Gruber appearances include as an expert panelist at a Hamilton Project event on July 17, 2007, “Who’s Got the Cure?” presided over by Robert Rubin. Gruber later wrote a chapter in a Brookings Institution book with a similar name, “Who Has the Cure? Hamilton Project Ideas on Health Care” (2008). Importantly, the book was edited by Jason Furman (second Director of the Hamilton Project who worked in Obama’s team). It has another chapter by Jeanne M. Lambrew. Lambrew serves as Obama’s Director, HHS Office of Reform and is a close associate of Tom Daschle (they together wrote a book on health care reform). Daschle, it should be recalled, was Obama’s original pick to head HHS before it turned out he dodged and fudged on his tax returns.

Gruber’s other RentEconomist work (covering three pages of a search at the Hamilton’s Project’s own web site) can be looked at by the reader following the links above.

What is important here is that an enormously wealthy group of people headed by Robert Rubin have created an institution (the Hamilton Project) that appears to be independent and even progressive. It in turn brings in hired economic guns like RentEconomist Gruber who are willing to promote the purposes of that essentially undemocratic institution. For a price that is. So too with Obama himself. He’s a RentPolitician.

From them emanate a "call for reform" whether it be in health care, or in deficit reduction or financial reform. But behind it all there is a guiding hand hidden from the public. At least the RentBoy that our story began with was upfront. He acknowledged (through the RentBoy web site) that he would provide just about any service, for a price. Unfortunately, we have RentEconomists, RentExperts, and yes, RentPoliticians, who take the money and perform just about anything too at their master’s command.

They’re just not as up front about it!

FOR FURTHER READING:

Please see an earlier diary written here that contains an extensive list of the connections between the Obama government and Robert Rubin/Goldman Sachs/the Hamilton Project.

See:
"An Updated List of Goldman Sachs Ties to the Obama Administration Including Elena Kagan"

It also has a list of readings recommended (with links) at its end that cover subjects in this diary.

A revealing, important article written by Matthew Skomarovsky shows, as its title indicates that "Obama Packs Debt Commission With Social Security Looters". Read it here.

An Updated List of Goldman Sachs Ties to the Obama Government Including Elena Kagan

9:13 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

I. Introduction.

This essay shows the pervasive influence of Goldman Sachs and its units (like the Goldman-Robert Rubin-funded Hamilton Project embedded in the Brookings Institution) in the Obama government. These names are in addition to those compiled on an older such list and published here at FDL. In the future, I will combine the names here and those on the earlier article but I urge readers to look at the earlier list too (links below). Combined, this is the largest and most comprehensive list of such ties yet published.

For readability and clarity, I have NOT included many of the details and links that are found in the earlier article so as to make this one less repetitive and easier to read. So, if you want more documentation, please look at my earlier diary here at Firedoglake called "A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Government: Names Attached To The Giant Squid’s Tentacles" published on April 27, 2010.

Note too that I have intentionally used the words, "Obama government" rather than "Obama administration" because some of these connections are not technically within his administration. These would include ambassadorial appointments and Supreme Court appointments (like that anticipated for Elena Kagan). This also includes lobbyists like Dick Gephardt who has multiple connections/input to Obama and to Goldman Sachs and the Hamilton Project.

In a similar vein, I use a broader definition than just Goldman Sachs (GS) because GS has funded, along with its ex-leader Robert Rubin, a right-leaning think tank called the Hamilton Project and embedded it within the Brookings Institution. Some of its activities thus also spill over into Brookings Institution projects which doubtlessly was one of the clever reasons Rubin and GS did this, along with providing their essentially neo-con/neo-liberal think tank with camouflage. This has worked beautifully for GS and Rubin as most writers–even critical ones like Matt Taibbi–seem unaware of the important doings of the Hamilton Project. The Hamilton Project has 32 people sitting on its Advisory Council and many have ties to Goldman Sachs, Rubin and the Obama government. Of the first four Directors of the Hamilton Project, three work in the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the most recent Director of the Hamilton Project came from academia and from a position as economic adviser to the Obama administration to Hamilton in the sort of "revolving door" that Washington is famous for.

The Hamilton Project (named after Alexander Hamilton whose most famous dictum was "The People are a Great Beast") is essentially pushing for cuts in entitlements (like social security), outsourcing American jobs, and for more NAFTA-type agreements. This is essentially the game plan for the Obama administration, not surprising since Barack Obama was the inaugural speaker at the Hamilton Project (and Joe Biden spoke there just weeks ago).

NOTE: This diary and its predecessor are the result of a lot of painstaking work. I am sure there are other Goldies out there in the Obama administration who I have missed. If so, PLEASE let me know by dropping their name in a comment below.

II. Additional Names of Goldies serving with Obama.

Enough background information, let’s reveal the Goldies with connections/jobs within the Obama government (or with "revolving door" status). For your convenience, I’ve listed the new names to the list separately and in the first section, led off by Elena Kagan because the buzz is that she is Obama’s pick to the Supreme Court.

NEW GOLDIES REVEALED (with respect to prior article):

KAGAN, ELENA.

Kagan was appointed by Obama to serve as the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General, often called the 10th Supreme Court Justice, is the person who argues the U.S. government side of cases before the court. Buzz has it that she is also Obama’s next pick to the Supreme Court, perhaps as early as this Monday.

At any rate, she’s already in the Obama government as Solicitor General. She also has ties to Goldman Sachs. From 2005 to 2008, according to USA Today and other sources, Kagan served as a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute. Matt Kelley of USA Today wrote in his article, "Possible Supreme Court Pick Had Ties to Goldman Sachs" that Kagan received $10,000 from Goldman Sachs for her services in 2008, per federal disclosure forms. But since she was doing the same thing in 2005, 2006, and 2006, it would appear that she pulled in $40,000 from Goldman Sachs for what appears to be sitting in on one day sessions looking at big issues affecting the global economy. $40,000 grand for so little time is a nice gig if you can get it (and she likely got expenses too) for so little time. It’s not a huge amount but it is enough to affect a player’s mind.

Here are some questions that Senators on the Judiciary Committee might want to ask of Kagan:

1) Can you produce all the paperwork/receipts related to your ties to Goldman Sachs?

2) Did you report the GS payments as income on your income tax returns (lots of people in the Obama administration (like Timothy Geithner) or wanting to be (like Tom Daschle) seem to have trouble filling out proper IRS forms.

3) Will you recuse yourself in any cases brought before you at the Supreme Court (if confirmed) that have any connection, no matter how remote, to Goldman Sachs or its entities?

4) As Solicitor General of the United States, have you handled (defined largely) any cases relating to Goldman Sachs or its entities?
Have you given advice on any such cases?

5) Have you had any dealings with The Hamilton Project? This includes speeches given there, conferences attended, papers published etc.

BERKOWITZ, HOWARD P.

Here is a murky connection (but an important one) between Obama and Goldman Sachs. Berkowitz serves as the Chairman, Board of Directors of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINAP). It is an important Washington think tank that gives input to Obama. It was established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in 1985, according to Wikipedia. People affiliated with WINAP are a virtual Who’s Who of foreign policy including Henry Kissinger, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Richard Perle.

Berkowitz also is Managing Director of BlackRock and sits on the Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs funded Hamilton Project.

BlackRock is a global investmentment management firm with over $3.35 trillion under management. There is a virtual revolving door of hiring and acquisitions between BlackRock and Goldman Sachs as reported here.

DUDLEY, WILLIAM C.

Dudley, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York web site:

became the 10th president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on January 27, 2009. In that capacity, he serves as the vice chairman and a permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the group responsible for formulating the nation’s monetary policy.

Mr. Dudley was a partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Company and was the firm’s chief U.S. economist for a decade. Earlier in his career at Goldman Sachs, he had a variety of roles including a stint when he was responsible for the firm’s foreign exchange forecasts. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1986, he was a vice president at the former Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. Mr. Dudley was an economist at the Federal Reserve Board from 1981 to 1983.

Dudley seems to have Geithner’s old job, passed from one Goldie to the next.

EFFRON, BLAIR W.

Effron is a money man. As a bundler for the 2008 Obama campaign, he raised more than $100,000. According to this web site he also was a "Mega Donor" to Obama in 2008, giving more than $28,500 though committees supporting Obama. His wife is also a major contributor, giving tens of thousands of dollars.

Effron is a founding partner of Centerview Partners LLC. Their web site indicates he has executed over $400 billion in transactions.

Effron is also on the Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs/Robert Rubin funded Hamilton Project.

FROMAN, Michael.

Froman (born August 20, 1962) is deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, a position to be held jointly at the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. His responsibilities will include serving as the White House liaison to the G7, G8 and G20 summits of economic powers.[

He's on my prior list but his name was misspelled there (as Frohman). Froman's days with Obama go back to Harvard Law School. Froman appears to be the original link between Robert Rubin/Goldman Sachs and Obama.

From Wikipedia:

>Froman received a bachelor's degree in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University in 1985, a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University and a law degree from Harvard Law School where he was a classmate of Barack Obama[2][3], and also an associate of Obama’s on the Harvard Law Review.[4]

After Harvard, Froman had lost touch with Barack Obama until Froman heard of Obama’s Senate run. Froman volunteered at that point to help, began raising funds for the candidate, and introduced the candidate to Robert Rubin, whom Froman had followed from the Treasury Department to Citigroup [Froman served as Rubin's Chief of Staff] after the Clinton administration.[4] Before moving to the Obama administration, Froman most recently was a managing director of Citigroup’s Citi Alternative Investments Institutional Clients Group, where he was head of infrastructure and sustainable development [5]. He also served on 12-member advisory board of the Obama campaign’s transition team.[1]

this source provides new information indicating Frohman, who was Mr. Goldman Sach’s former Chief of Staff, as an "informal adviser" to Obama. They spell his name as Froman, Michael.

FUDGE, ANNE.

Obama just appointed Fudge to his budget deficit reduction committee (whose real goal, like that of the Hamilton Project, is to cut entitlements). Fudge has been the public relations craftsman for some of America’s largest corporations. She sits, according to the Washington Post, as a Trustee of the Brookings Institution within which the Hamilton Project is embedded.

GEPHARDT, RICHARD (aka "DICK") A.

Gephardt is one of the movers and shakers in the Democratic party and served as the Democratic Majority Leader of the House from 1989 to 1995. While he doesn’t have an "official position" in the Obama administration his name was floated as a possible VP to Obama in 2008. Like so many ex-politicians, Gephardt has set up a consulting firm that has its fingers in just about every pie in the Obama government. Gephardt, for instance, advised the Obama administration, according to the New York Times, that universal health coverage could not pass in 2009 and urged Obama to "defer that goal." That’s what the people Gephardt takes money from wanted and that’s also what Obama did.

Here’s more from The New York Times:

One old friend links Mr. Gephardt’s assessment to his lucrative new career as a lobbyist. “He’s advising a lot of big corporations,” said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the machinists’ union.

Wikipedia says that:

Dick Gephardt started Gephardt Group in January 2005 and is currently its President and CEO. Gephardt Group is a multi-disciplined consulting firm focused on helping clients improve Labor Relations, develop Political and Public Policy Strategies and enhance Business Results by gaining access to new markets or partners.[15]

According to Wikipedia:

is also an active consultant for Goldman Sachs.

Gephardt also sits on the Advisory Council of the Hamilton Project funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs.

MURPHY, PHILLIP.

Obama appointed Murphy to serve as his Ambassador to Germany. In the 1990′s, Murphy, who worked for decades with Goldman Sachs, served as GS’s head of its German offices. From 1997-1999, Murphy served as President of Goldman Sachs, Asia (during the Asian economic crisis). In all, according to Wikipedia, Murphy spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs including as a Senior Director of the firm in 2003 before retiring from GS in 2006.

GRANOFF, MICHAEL D.

Granoff is a money man, and contributed lots of bucks as a "mega donor" to the Obama campaign. At least $28,500 according to Public Citizen.

Granoff is President, CEO and Founder of Pomona Capital, a venture capital group.

Granoff is also one of the 19 members of the Goldman Sachs-Robert Rubin funded Hamilton Project.

LIDDY, EDWARD MICHAEL.

Liddy was, until recently, the CEO of AIG which, during the Obama administration, was essentially taken over by the government. He served in high positions at Goldman Sachs including : Board Member (Chairman, 1990-94; Director, 2003-2008). He was picked to the Goldman board by none other than Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs who was Bush’s Treasury Secretary who with Obama’s Treasury Secretary (Geithner) fashioned TARP.

Wikipedia reports:

Liddy garnered national headlines in October 2008 for defending a controversial $440,000 AIG retreat for top-performing insurance salesmen at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. The retreat, which was held shortly after the U.S. government rescued AIG from insolvency with $84 billion in loans, included $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa. In testimony before the U.S. House Oversight Committee, Liddy stated that such retreats "are standard practice in our industry."[11] During the U.S. presidential debate on October 7, 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama mentioned the retreat and said, "The Treasury should demand that money back and those executives should be fired."[12]

But that’s not what happened. Instead, Barack Obama as President kept Mr. Liddy on while AIG was essentially in receivership under the Obama administration.

How about this for a conflict of interest, again as reported by Wikipedia:

Liddy owns 27,129 shares in Goldman Sachs, at the time worth just over $3 million.[18] In April 2009 members of Congress called for Liddy to sell these shares, as they create a conflict of interest due to Goldman Sachs’ receipt of bailout money.[19] About two-thirds of Liddy’s holding is restricted and cannot be sold until May 31.[18]

Liddy announced on May 21, 2009 that he would resign as AIG Chairman and CEO when replacements were found, suggesting that the two roles be split.[20] Liddy was not paid for his time at AIG.[21] On August 3, 2009, Robert Benmosche was named President and CEO of AIG.[7]

NIEDERAUER, DUNCAN.

Niederauer is CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. While a private entity, it is heavily regulated by the government and has close government ties. Niederauer, for instance, is a frequent speaker at Federal Reserve events:

New York Stock Exchange Euronext CEO Duncan L. Niederauer delivered the keynote address today at the fourth annual global summit on financial literacy hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa Inc.

He has an extensive Goldman Sachs background:

He joined NYSE Group following a 22-year career at Goldman Sachs. He served as a Managing Director of Goldman Sachs since 1997 and was responsible for U.S. cash equities operations, including Institutional and Member Firm Client Group sales and client services for … both the New York Stock Exchange and NYSE Arca. Mr. Niederauer was previously a Partner at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (United States) ("GS") where he held many positions.

PERRY, RICHARD.

Perry is an Obama supporter, adviser and fund raiser. He worked for Goldman Sachs and is on the Goldman Sachs’funded, Hamilton Project’s Advisory Council. He is also CEO of Perry Capital, a hedge fund. Perry owns the full floor penthouse at 1 Sutton Place in NYC and according to the Washington Examiner is one of 15 " fat cat Wall St. Banker" friends of Obama. These are the same "fat cats" that Obama sometimes flails out at in the press to pretend he’s a populist!

SHAFRAN, STEVEN.

Shafran served as an advisor/aide to Timothy Geithner especially on TARP. All of the advisers on that appear in a very murky fashion. And Shafran, like a lot of other TARP advisers, has extensive ties to Goldman as a executive for years. He’s especially shadowy, however. Here’s a link about him from CBS News.

THAIN, JOHN.

John Thain has served as an adviser to Timothy Geithner. Thain was President and Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs from 1999 to 2003.

TYSON, LAURA D’ANDREA.

An economic adviser to President Obama. Tyson is a Hamilton Project Advisory Council Member. The Hamilton Project as noted above was founded by Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs and has close links to Obama personally.

III. COMBINED LIST OF GOLDIES TIED TO THE OBAMA GOVERNMENT.

This lists compiles the names above and those in the prior diary on this. For more detail on names not annotated in this diary, see the earlier diary linked here):

ALTMAN, ROGER.

BERKOWITZ, HOWARD P.

BIDEN, JOE.

BRAINARD, LAEL.

BUFFETT, WARREN.

CLINTON, HILLARY.

CRAIG, GREGORY. (revolving door)

DONILON, THOMAS.

DUDLEY, WILLIAM C.

EFFRON, BLAIR W.

ELMENDORF, DOUGLAS.

EMANUEL, RAHM.

FARRELL, DIANA.

FRIEDMAN, STEPHEN.

FROMAN, Michael.

FUDGE, ANNE.

FURMAN, JASON.

GALLOGLY, MARK.

GEITHNER, TIMOTHY.

GENSLER, GARY.

GEPHARDT, RICHARD (aka "DICK") A.

GREENSTONE, MICHAEL (revolving door to Hamilton Project)

HAMILTON PROJECT, THE

HORMATS, ROBERT.

KAGAN, ELENA.

KASHKARI, NEEL.

KORNBLUH, KAREN.

LEW, JACOB (AKA "JACK") J.

LIDDY, EDWARD MICHAEL.

LIPTON, DAVID A.

MINDICH, ERIC

MURPHY, PHILLIP.

NIEDERAUER, DUNCAN.

OBAMA, BARACK H.

ORSZAG, PETER.

PATTERSON, MARK.

PERRY, RICHARD.

RATTNER, STEVE.

REISCHAUER, ROBERT D.

RIVLIN, ALICE.

RUBIN, JAMES.

RUBIN, ROBERT.

SHAFRAN, STEVEN.

SPERLING, GENE.

STORCH, ADAM.

SUMMERS, LARRY.

THAIN, JOHN.

TYSON, LAURA D’ANDREA.

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING:

1. Greg Gordon (McClatchy Newspapers), "Goldman’s White House Connections Raise Eyebrows" April 21, 2010.

2. Fflambeau, "With the Obama Administration Infested With Goldman Sachs People, How Real is the Obama/Democratic Attack on Big Banks" FDL Diary, April 21, 2010.

3. "More Investigations of Goldman Sachs, A Double-Edge Swords for Obama and Democrats"

4. Paul Street’s article showing that Obama held corporatist ideas long before elected and his indebtedness to the interests of big business.

5. Matthew Skomarovsky, "Obama Packs Debt Commission with Social Security Looters", March 28, 2010 at Alternet.

6. Fflambeau, "A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Administration: Names Attached to the Giant Squid’s Tentacles"

ESSENTIAL READING ON THE HAMILTON PROJECT AND ITS TIES TO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:

1. Kirk James Murphy, M.D. "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine In New DLC Vessels." THE seminal article on the Hamilton Project which also features a video clip of then Senator Barack Obama talking about "my friend, Bob [Rubin]" and espousing cuts in entitlements and the "need" for more free trade pacts like NAFTA.

2. Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows His Links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 1.

3. Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows His Links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 2".

4. Another source for Obama’s Hamilton Project speech of April 2006. Contains video clip.

5. James Kirk Murphy, M.D., "Remember the Hamilton Project?" Dr. Murph’s latest look at the Hamilton Project.

6. David Sirota, "Wall Street Democrats Unveil Plan to Undermine Progressives", April 5, 2006.

NEED YOUR HELP: Please Join Me In Writing a Letter of Protest to the New York Times

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Please join me by emailing editors at the New York Times. I have written a letter of protest and emailed it to the New York Times over an article on likely, upcoming social security cuts. In the article in dispute, the New York Times writer Jackie Calmes used anonymous sources to bolster the credibility of three economists without telling readers that ALL THREE come from backgrounds favoring cuts in entitlements, and that ALL THREE have ties to Robert Rubin and the Rubin-funded Hamilton Project. One of the mainstays of the Hamilton Project, embedded in the Brookings Institution, is to cut entitlements. The article in question does not provide information from any economists who question cuts in entitlements.

This may seem a bit confusing but I believe the following letter which I just sent to the Times lays the case out:

Dear Clark Hoyt, Public Editor, New York Times
Dear Jill Abramson, Managing Editor, New York Times

Dear New York Times Editors:

The New York Times has long been the most important newspaper in the nation so it is with concern that I write to you about a story that appeared on your web site. The story was written by Jackie Calmes and titled, "Next Big Issue? Social Security Pops Up Again" published on the web site on March 22, 2010. Here’s a link to the story. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/us/politics/23fiscal.html?hp

Unfortunately, this article raises concerns about journalistic ethics and use of anonymous sources.

Read the rest of this entry →

New York Times Beats Drum for Social Security “Reform” (Meaning Cuts, Age Increases)

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

It’s already happened, sooner than I thought but as predicted. One of the mainstays of the status quo is calling for "social security reform". The New York Times in a front page article says social security "reform" is the "next big issue" and that Social Security is "the likeliest source of the sort of large savings needed to bring projected annual deficits to sustainable levels". The article, "Next Big Issue? Social Security Pops Up Again" was written by Jackie Calmes. Her article raises issues of journalistic ethics and the misuse of anonymous sources.

Shamefully, this New York Times article, for example, gives an anonymous source for listing three economists who it claims are "the best minds and prolific authors on Social Security" without exploring their background or telling us that all three have ties to institutions (like the Hamilton Project and Goldman Sachs) seeking entitlement cuts. This is stacking the deck just like the Obama administration stacked the deck against single payer and the public option by freezing out proponents of those ideas. This is also a complete misuse by Jackie Calmes and the New York Times of the reasons for an "anonymous source": what’s to hide in the naming of some economists, please, other than the fact that this reporter was essentially told by someone what to write and didn’t look into the subject at all?

Had Jackie Calmes done any research on this topic at all she would have found out that an attack on entitlements was also high on the wish list of the Hamilton Project (again, to which all 3 or her economists have links). Recall that the Hamilton Project is the "think tank" sponsored by Goldman Sachs and ex-Goldman Sachs chief, Robert Rubin, and cleverly embedded in the Brookings Institution. In April, 2006, a young, Democratic senator spoke at the inauguration of the Hamilton Project. Barack Obama lavished praise on "my friend Bob" (Rubin) and said the U.S. needs more NAFTA-type agreements and needs to cut entitlements (like social security). Read the rest of this entry →

Michael Moore Challenges Obama: Replace Rahm with Moore: Why It Won’t Work & What Michael Misses!

8:05 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Michael Moore has a witty, "must read" column up over at his website and at the Huffington Post in which he challenges Barack Obama to replace Rahm Emanuel with–Michael Moore. "President Obama, Replace Rahm With Me: An Open Letter From Michael Moore" is a funny post and gets in digs at both Obama and Rahm.

But at its base, Michael Moore perceives Obama wrongly: Obama isn’t hostage to the right or hostage to Rahm, Obama isn’t some good guy who’s been misled. Rather, Obama’s a willing partner, even leader (he is POTUS, after all), in what his administration has done this past 14 months. Obama sold out long ago to Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs.

First, let’s have a look at Moore’s excellent writing over at the Huffington Post which starts with:

Dear President Obama,

I understand you may be looking to replace Rahm Emanuel as your chief of staff.

I would like to humbly offer myself, yours truly, as his replacement.

I will come to D.C. and clean up the mess that’s been created around you. I will work for $1 a year. I will help the Dems on Capitol Hill find their spines and I will teach them how to nonviolently beat the Republicans to a pulp.

And I will help you get done what the American people sent you there to do. I don’t need much, just a cot in the White House basement will do.

Now, don’t get too giddy with excitement over my offer, because you and I are going to be up at 5 in the morning, seven days a week and I am going to get you pumped up for battle every single day (see photo). Each morning you and I will do 100 jumping jacks and you will repeat after me:

"THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ELECTED ME, NOT THE REPUBLICANS, TO RUN THE COUNTRY! I AM IN CHARGE! I WILL ORDER ALL OBSTRUCTIONISTS OUTTA MY WAY! IF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON’T LIKE WHAT I’M DOING THEY CAN THROW MY ASS OUT IN 2012. IN THE MEANTIME, I CALL THE SHOTS ON THEIR BEHALF! NOW, CONGRESS, DROP AND GIVE ME 50!!"

That’s funny! I can just see the good Congresspeople dropping and doing 50 push-ups (or Michael, for that matter!).

Later in his article, Moore goes on to say this:

Well, you and the Democrats have been in charge now for over a year and not one banking regulation has been reinstated. We don’t have universal health care. The war in Afghanistan has escalated. And tens of thousands of Americans continue to lose their jobs and be thrown out of their homes. For most of us, it’s just simply no longer good enough that Bush is gone. Woo hoo. Bush is gone. Yippee. That hasn’t created one new friggin’ job.

You’re such a good guy, Mr. President. You came to Washington with your hand extended to the Republicans and they just chopped it off. You wanted to be respectful and they decided that they were going to say "no" to everything you suggested. Yet, you kept on saying you still believed in bipartisanship.

Well, if you really want bipartisanship, just go ahead and let the Republicans win in November. Then you’ll get all the bipartisanship you want.

It’s written well, Michael, and it sounds great. I especially like your P.S.:

P.S. Just to give you an idea of the new style I’ll be bringing with me, when a cornhole like Sen. Ben Nelson tries to hold you up next time, this is what I will tell him in order to get his vote: "You’ve got exactly 30 seconds to rescind your demand or I will personally make sure that Nebraska doesn’t get one more federal dollar for the rest of Obama’s term. And then I will let everyone in your state know that you wear Sooner panties, backwards. NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 50!"

What a hoot that is!

But unfortunately, Michael, you’ve made a mistake(s)[see below where you wrongly credit Rahm with the 50 state strategy]. You haven’t looked at facts. You haven’t looked at Obama’s real background. The scenario that you paint–Obama’s a good guy surrounded by bad advisers like Rahm who have misled him–is wrong. Please have a look at Bill Moyer’s Journal interview with Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner (see link below) and Obama’s speech before the Hamilton Project in 2006 (links below) to see the real Obama.

Obama, after all, is the guy who picked Rahm as his Chief of Staff. Just like he let the Republican Robert Gates (who was chosen by W) continue in the most important position in his Cabinet–Secretary of Defense. Just like Obama kept on almost all of W’s generals, and even promoted most of them. Remember too, that Obama wanted that great libertarian and humanist, Judd Gregg, who opposed both Obama’s economic stimulus plan and just recently a one-time $250 payment to Social Security recipients who otherwise get no cost of living increase this year in their benefits, as Obama’s Commerce Secretary.

One must dig into facts, into actions, more–Michael–to understand the real Obama. Pick up just about anything Matt Taibbi has written, or James Street’s excellent, "Obama as Predicted". Have a look at then Senator Barack Obama’s speech in 2006 at the opening ceremony of the Hamilton Project. Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs funded the Hamilton Project and in his speech, Obama thanks "my friend Bob" and calls for more NAFTA-like agreements and cuts in entitlements. It’s not an coincidence that one of Obama’s first acts (Obama’s Geithner coordinated with Bush’s Paulson) was to support TARP 1 and Tarp 2. It’s not a coincidence that so many Goldman Sachs people are working next to Obama. It’s not just a coincidence that Goldman Sachs was one of the primary beneficiaries of Obama’s economic bailouts, either. It’s not a coincidence that Obama lied to the American public as a candidate when he said he wanted to reform NAFTA.

Nor is it a coincidence that one of the chief architects of deregulation, the guy that Harvard fired, Larry Summers, sits as Obama’s chief economic adviser. (NOTE: Both Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot share something: a disdain for coincidences. The super sleuths, though fictional, were right. With Obama, one has to follow the money trail too.).

The Russian people made the same kind of mistake pre-revolution. If one looks back at history during that time, common people all thought the Tsar was a "good guy" (despite his abysmal record) and that he was misled by bad advisers. Same well-intentioned but mistaken thinking in your post, Michael. In reality, the Tsar cared about the Tsar, not "his" people. Ditto with Obama. Obama has his Rasputin only because he, Obama, chose him and continues to support him.

I know you’re a nice guy and I’ve loved your documentaries over the years. I still laugh at the scene in "Sicko" where you use the bullhorn at Gitmo asking for help! Hilarious! Any time I see a bullhorn it reminds me of your good work. And those priceless interviews on the streets with Congressmen in your documentary on "Fahrenheit 9-11". Classic stuff! Better than "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." You outdid Capra with reality and that’s hard to do.

But since you’re a nice guy, one of the true good guys around, maybe you find it easier to believe that Obama is one too. He’s not (I’m not talking about Obama as person or as dad but as a leader). Not at least in the sense of whom he fights for. Obama was bought and paid for by Goldman Sachs and he fights for them, big banks, big insurance companies, and the military industrial complex. His record for the past 14 months makes that clear.

One thing that you got spot on, Michael, was the ending of your otherwise excellent post:

Let me be clear about one thing: The Democrats on Election Day 2010 are going to get an ass-whoopin’ of biblical proportions if things don’t change right now. And after the new Republican majority takes over, they, along with a few conservative Democrats in Congress, will get to bipartisanly impeach you for being a socialist and a citizen of Kenya. How nice to see both sides of the aisle working together again!

And the brief window we had to fix this country will be gone.

The only way to clean up the mess is not for you, Michael Moore, to take Rahm’s position, but to take Obama’s position.

Mike, please, please, for the sake of Flint and the rest of America, primary Obama in 2012. You won’t need a bullhorn then, you’d have the entire Bully Pulpit!

Then we’ll see real, not faux, change!

NOTE:

On the Hamilton Project please see these articles that appeared here at FDL:

1. "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine in New DLC Vessels" [includes video clip with Senator Obama's April, 2006, speech: bowing and scrapping to Robert Rubin of Goldman Sachs ("my friend, Bob"); endorsing NAFTA and asking for more such trade pacts; and, asking for cuts to entitlements]

2. "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows his Links to Goldman Sachs, Entitlement Cuts", Part 1 and Part 2

Also highly recommended for insights into the REAL Obama:

1) Bill Moyer’s Journal program with interview of Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner, 18 December 2009 [where a video clip of the entire show can be seen or you can read the full transcript of the program]

2) "Betrayal"–President Obama–is the Saddest Word"

3) Stanley Kutler, "The System Works, Obama’s Approach Doesn’t" at Truthdig

4) Matt Taibbi, "Obama’s Big Sellout"

5) Paul Street, "Obama, as Predicted"

SPECIAL NOTE TO MICHAEL MOORE:

In your article on your own website and at the Huffington Post, you wrongly credit Rahm with the successful 50-state strategy:

That’s certainly what he [Rahm] did in 2006. After six long, miserable years of the middle-class getting slaughtered and the poor being flushed down the toilet, Rahm Emanuel took on the job of returning Congress to the Democrats. No one believed it could be done.

But he did it. Big time.

Wrong, wrong, (with a bullhorn) WRONG! That was Howard Dean’s work and it’s also a fact that Rahm (and Obama) hates Dean for this and his other successes. That’s why Dean is not in the Obama administration. Recall also that Rahm was strategy maker for the 1994 Democratic fiasco and was nearly sacked by Bill Clinton for it!

Is Rahm intentionally driving the Democratic Bus Toward the Cliff’s Edge?

8:35 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

What a difference a year makes. In December, 2008, Democrats basked in the glory of a triumphant presidential election campaign that saw their candidate, the first African American in history, take the presidency. Democrats swept to bigger majorities in the Senate and the House. It appeared with Obama in power that the country was on the brink of major, progressive change.

But a year later, the wheels have already come off the Democratic bus and it appears to be swerving toward the edge of a cliff. Here are some poll numbers from a just-released Battleground Poll as reported in the L.A. Times:.

The president’s job-approval rating has slipped to 49%, Republican pollster Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake say. And the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of the president’s performance, 41%, outweighs the 37% who strongly approve.

Disapproval of the job that Congress is doing has risen to 68%, "an all-time high," and 77% among independent voters.

The problem for the president’s party, the pollsters say, is that the most passionate supporters of the Democratic president appear less likely to turn out to vote in congressional elections next year. And the most angry of the independent voters — a swing-voting bloc that supported Obama in 2008 — appear heavily motivated to vote against Democrats.

"There is a potential for this being the 1994 of the angry white male," said Goeas, pointing to the pivotal year during President Clinton’s first term when Republicans gained control of the House.

The reference to 1994, of course, refers to the year the Democrats lost the House to the Republicans a loss that pretty much cut off any chance that the DLC-orientated Clinton White House had for any meaningful reform, not that they had such ideas. One character was pivotal in 1994 and is again pivotal today: Rahm Emanuel. Recall that Emanuel was a close advisor to Bill Clinton in 1994 and in fact was in charge of getting more Democrats elected back then. Today, he’s in an even more elevated position as Obama’s Chief of Staff.

Rahm, whatever his other faults, is no dummy. So he can obviously read the "tea leaves", the polls, and knows the implications for the party in 2010. It’s apparent, as the L.A. Times article points out, that the Democrats will be in major trouble in 2010. From the same article linked above, here are comments and statistics that show that Obama has lost independent voters and that Democrats won’t come out in the numbers needed in 2010:

"Only 28% said their priorities match Obama’s priorities, and 64% said they do not," Goeas said. "There’s a disconnect."

Most voters surveyed, 56%, say the country is on the wrong track, with 34% seeing the nation going in the right direction.

In a "generic" contest between an unnamed Democratic candidate and an unnamed Republican candidate for Congress, 42% of those surveyed said they would support the Republican; 40% opted for the Democrat.

Among those swing-voting independents: 40% said they would select the Republican; 19%, the Democrat.

The voters most likely to support Republican candidates for Congress are more likely to vote next year, according to the survey.

On a related note, one Democrat, Michael Capuano of Massachussets, a failed candidate for Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat, was asked about what he saw on the campaign trail and what the mood of the voters is. Capuano’s reply: "You’re screwed." Surely, both Rahm and Obama know this and doubly so after this failed health "insurance reform" bill comes out. An excellent diary here at Firedoglake by TheCallUp summarizes progresssive discontent with the Obama administration, especially over health care legislation in the last few days.

So then the question is: why? With the Democrats heading toward the cliff, with it obvious that Obama is failing because he has jettisoned the very platform that he ran and won it, the question is why would Rahm-Obama continue this disastrous path? At first, I chalked it up to stupidity. But once again, Rahm may be a thug, but he isn’t stupid, nor is Obama. Coincidence? Neither Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot believed in coincidence for good reasons. What’s instructive is that Rahm engineered pretty much the same results in 1994. So it has to be deliberate, not just coincidence, not just stupidity.

Here’s what I have come to regard as the reason for the disastrous course the Obama administration has taken: Rahm KNOWS that Obama and the Democrats are driving toward the cliff and that is part of the plan. Because after 2010 when the Republicans either take back the House or reduce the Democratic majority in it to such an extent that Blue Dogs (i.e. Republicans in Democratic garb) control it with their allies, Obama can work with the people he is most akin to: the GOP and the Blue Dogs. Note that overall Obama’s world outlook most closely resembles not progressive Democrat’s but that of Rockefeller Republican’s: strong on defense spending and the expansion of the American Empire, strong on help to major corporations and Wall St., bread and circuses for the masses.

The Democrats lost the House on Rahm’s watch in 1994 and it looks likely to happen again. Coincidence? I think not since as I mentioned anyone who has an IQ above 90 should be able to read these polls and see the results. Could it be that Rahm (and the man who hired him) really want to lose in 2010? Why? Because then Obama and Rahm could even more openly deal with the GOP whose values they share much more than they do those of progressive Democrats. That’s why, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, the Obama administration has not hesitated to put massive pressure on progressives but has not done the same thing to Blue Dogs, to Lieberman, to Max Baucus, etc. Writes Greenwald:

That’s what the White House can do when they actually care about pressuring someone to vote the way they want. Why didn’t they do any of that to the "centrists" who were supposedly obstructing what they wanted on health care? Why didn’t they tell Blanche Lincoln — in a desperate fight for her political life — that she would "never hear from them again," and would lose DNC and other Democratic institutional support, if she filibustered the public option? Why haven’t they threatened to remove Joe Lieberman’s cherished Homeland Security Chairmanship if he’s been sabotaging the President’s agenda? Why hasn’t the President been rhetorically pressuring Senators to support the public option and Medicare buy-in, or taking any of the other steps outlined here by Adam Green? There’s no guarantee that it would have worked — Obama is not omnipotent and he can’t always control Congressional outcomes — but the lack of any such efforts is extremely telling about what the White House really wanted here.

…We’ve long heard — from the most blindly loyal cheerleaders and from Emanuel himself — that progressives should place their trust in the Obama White House to get this done the right way, that he’s playing 11-dimensional chess when everyone else is playing checkers, that Obama is the Long Game Master who will always win. Then, when a bad bill is produced, the exact opposite claim is hauled out: it’s not his fault because he’s totally powerless, has nothing to do with this, and couldn’t possibly have altered the outcome. From his defenders, he’s instantaneously transformed from 11-dimensional chess Master to impotent, victimized bystander.

The supreme goal is to shield him from all blame.

Greenwald also notes that Obama and his administration today are harshly criticising Howard Dean, a Progressive, but they never did the same thing to Blue Dogs:

>…an NBC reporter explained how Robert Gibbs used his Press Briefing today to harshly criticize Howard Dean for opposing the health care bill. Why did Gibbs never publicly criticize people like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and the like if they were supposedly obstructing and impeding the White House’s agenda on health care reform (this is a point Yglesias acknowledges as a "fair" one)? Having a Democratic White House publicly criticize a Democratic Senator can be a much more effective pressure tactic than doing so against a former Governor who no longer holds office.

In truth, Rahm and Obama share much more in common with Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman than they do with Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold. Rahm has famously told the progressives, on at least one occasion, to go "f___ themselves." Moreover, Rahm really represents Goldman Sachs and the banking elite (he’s a millionaire many times over because of his banking work), he represents the power elite and he also represents Israel. His dad is a self-professed Zionist. The power elite would prefer Republicans in office but in 2008 they knew that ANY Republican would lose to just about any Democrat. So they advanced their paid salesman, Barack Obama, who was sold as a progressive to the American people when in fact he was in the employ of the people really running this country. People like Bob Rubin. So Obama was a stealth candidate, or if you prefer, a kind of Trojan horse whose exterior masked the presence of the banking and corporate elite inside.

Recall that in 2006, Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs funded a free trade think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution. Their free trade baby is called the Hamilton Project, after Alexander Hamilton of the "people are a great beast" fame. At the opening of the Hamilton Project in April, 2006, Rubin and Goldman Sachs invited a young senator to speak: Barack Obama. His speech extolled free trade, referred to his "friend Bob" (Rubin), and also included the need for cutbacks in entitlements (read Social Security and Medicare). For more on Obama and the Hamilton project, see this diary.

So, we are seeing the Democrats going from their most popular period in decades in 2008 to driving over the cliff in 2010. Obama as salesman has pushed for: TARP, trillions in bailouts to Wall St. and banks, no policy on job creation, and escalation of an unpopular war in Afghanistan. The real president is Bob Rubin, former head of both Goldman Sachs and Citibank; Obama is Rubin’s hand-selected salesman; Rahm is Obama’s handler and the conduit from Rubin-Goldman Sachs-the power elite to Obama.

Moreover, Obama is expendable as this disastrous path of the Democratic bus shows. Rubin and Rahm know that Obama is pushing programs that will result in defeat for the Democrats: Rahm did the same thing in 1994. What Obama bought for Rubin and Goldman in 2008 was time, and the opportunity to defeat the once in every 70 years chance that progressives have when they control the presidency, the House and the Senate. Mission accomplished by Obama and his Trojan horse campaign. He can now be jettisoned and he will be by the power elite who will shift funding away from him in 2012 to a Republican.

In a sense, Joe Lieberman is also a weather vane for what’s happening. Lieberman has an excellent sense of power (and is completely trusted by the people of the power elite). That’s why Lieberman’s vote was critical on health "insurance reform." Joe is also Israel’s guy (as is Rahm, who according to Bill Clinton in his biography was "in the Israeli army" see p. 542 of Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004)). Note that Joe has been drifting towards the right over the last decade; he’s positioned to sell himself as a Republican in 2012 when he comes up for reelection again. Joe knows already that 2012 will be a Republican year just as 2008 was a Democratic year. He’s one of the men the power elite really trust (Rahm is another) whereas Obama is expendable and probably just happy to have the chance to make some money, satisfy his ambitions, get in the public spotlight, and retire in luxury. As more and more people see through Obama’s lies and deceptive words, his value as a salesman becomes less to the power elite.

The motive here? Power and money. These motives are more powerful than even race for note that Obama has done zilch for people of his own race. The nexus between power and money and race was commented upon by the brilliant Black American crime detective novelist, Walter Mosley:

I could see where money affected both of them [2 characters in his book] more than race. It was the first time I had ever actually witnessed the power of money and class in forming character.

Source: Walter Mosley, Fear Itself (2003).

So in sum, the debacle that is "health insurance" reform has stripped back the curtain to reveal to the American people what is really happening. Our government is not working for the people, it is working to advance the power and interests of those in charge, as the actions on "insurance reform" show. The person in charge of this country is not Obama but his master, Bob Rubin. Rahm Emanuel is Rubin/Goldman Sach’s handler for Obama. Obama is dispensable especially as people see through his "salesman skills", Rahm is not, neither is Lieberman. Obama was chosen as a stop-gap measure in a year in which any Democrat would have won. That is why Rubin chose Obama as long ago as 2006 to be "his man"; someone who could be relied on to sell unpopular policies to an increasingly progressive electorate. With Obama, a Trojan Horse for Rubin and Goldman Sachs in power, the short window for real progressive change was slammed shut. That’s why Obama has dumped every progressive program that he ran on since the election. That’s why Obama froze real progressives (like Howard Dean) out of his administration and worked instead with Clinton retreads and George W. leftovers, like Robert Gates and Gen. McCrystal. All of this shows that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, as Gore Vidal and the historian William Appleman Williams noted long ago, are both wings of the Corporate Party which really runs everything.

Is all lost? Probably. Sorry for the bleak assessment but the forces in charge control not only our government but the police, the army, and most importantly, the media. Note too that the same thing is happening world wide in the "democracies". Berlusconi, a Mafia thug, is in charge of Italy and deserved his up close meeting with the Milan Cathedral (what an irony that instrument was!). Tony Blair-Gordon Brown sold Britain’s Labour Party out just as Clinton and Obama sold out the Democrats. France is ruled by a puppet of the French elites. Germany and Japan are both ruled by huge multi-national corporations like Siemens and Sony. Russia is ruled by the former head of the KGB. Voltaire recognized the human dilemma many years ago in Candide (1759) and came up with this injunction as the most fruitful course of action: look to yourself and your circle of friends and till your own garden.

Here in America, if any change happens, it must be at the local level first and done through populist organizing. Forget the Democratic Party, it’s infested with DLCers. Forget writing letters to Obama, you’re just wasting your time and energy. True change can only come about when the public is first enlightened as to what is really happening in this country. So forums like this are a first step in the right direction. Gardens and good novels are two other escapist opportunities to while away the time until either the police or the army come for us! For after all, lots of people are going to be "in Dutch" after the mandated insurance bill passes. You either sign up for the insurance, pay a fine, or go to jail. And jail is one institution that both parties really believe in and find unlimited funds for.

Obama’s “Smoking Gun”: His Hamilton Project Speech shows his links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts (Part 2)

9:34 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

II. The Founding of the Hamilton Project.

That Barack Obama was in bed with Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs as long ago as April, 2006, is shown by the Hamilton Project and Obama’s speech there. Before looking at that vital speech, we need to know first some of the background about the founding of the Hamilton Project by Rubin and Goldman Sachs. Here is the Financial Times writing on April 6, 2006 about the dangers of populism and what the Hamilton Project is about:

Given the continued absence of credible economic leadership in Washington, it is unsurprising – but troubling – that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have recently been tempted to fill the gap with populism. In that context, we welcome the launch yesterday by the Brookings Institution of a new platform – the Hamilton Project, named after America’s first Treasury Secretary – to address America’s looming economic challenges. Although composed mostly of Democrats, the group states a clear preference for market-based solutions to America’s problems. It rejects the latent signs of protectionism recently visible on Capitol Hill. But it makes a strong case for the state to play a more constructive role both in improving the efficiency of America’s market economy, but also in addressing the growing inequity of market outcomes.

Yet it would be hard to dispute the recommendation that America should boost investment in the skills of its workforce, both through better technical training and improving the underperforming public school system. Likewise, we strongly agree with the view that the US needs to return to the path of fiscal discipline from which Mr Bush has strayed, even if the group ducked the question of how it would reform America’s entitlement system. Reducing the cost of Medicare and Medicaid is America’s most important long-term fiscal challenge. It is also critical to reverse Mr Bush’s tax cuts.
At a time of economic demagoguery on Capitol Hill and a vacuum of leadership in the White House it is refreshing that rational voices are addressing America’s core economic challenges. Many of the policy details are awaited. But the diagnosis is persuasive.

Wikipedia gives us a quick primer on who set up the Hamilton Project and its overall goals:

The Hamilton Project[1] was set up by former US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
He set up the Hamilton Group (sic), a think tank aimed at keeping Democrats from spending too wildly and running up dangerous deficits.[2]
See also: Brookings Institution.

That, folks, complete with the 2 references, is the ENTIRE Wikipedia entry on the Hamilton Group but it captures in a nutshell what the group was designed to do: keep progressive Democrats in line.

Here’s how A Tiny Revolution, under the headline "A Winning Democratic Strategy From People Who Hate Democrats" described the foundation of the Hamilton Project (NOTE: this website has a video clip of Obama’s speech at the Hamilton Project):

David Sirota points out here that the Brookings Institution has launched something called "The Hamilton Project" led by Robert Rubin.

Looking at it, you can tell right away who the Hamilton Project is for: Wall Street Democrats. Or as I like to call them, "The Party of Gay Investment Bankers and Corporate Lawyers Whose Grandfathers Worked in the Roosevelt Administration." (In fact, by my count, its advisory council includes twelve investment bankers.) They’re people who should naturally be Republicans, but just can’t bear having to hang out with Pat Robertson.

The funny thing is, they’re apparently desperate to make this clear. Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE CALLING THEMSELVES "THE HAMILTON PROJECT."
Let’s ask the Democratic Party’s own website to explain the significance of this:

Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party.
The "elitist Federalist Party," of course, was founded by Jefferson’s chief rival Hamilton.

Moreover, if you only take one thing away from seventh-grade history, it’s that Jefferson was the small-d democrat, while Hamilton famously exclaimed "The People!—The People is a Great Beast!" Hopefully that can be used as the title for all the Hamilton Project’s proposals for free trade, balanced budgets and school vouchers:

Still, it might be nice if the Democratic party didn’t get all its ideas from people who hate Democrats. But don’t get your hopes up.

In the interests of fairness, here is how the Hamilton Project describes itself:

The Hamilton Project produces research and policy proposals on how to create a growing economy that benefits more Americans. The Hamilton Project’s economic strategy reflects a judgment that long term prosperity is best achieved by making economic growth broad-based, by enhancing individual economic security, and by embracing a role for effective government in making needed public investments.

Since its launch in April 2006, The Hamilton Project has undertaken a significant policy agenda with input from leading thinkers in academia, business and public policy communities. The Project has released over 50 policy papers on subjects ranging from energy policy to health care to economic security.

In 2008 we have focused significant attention to our nation’s current economic challenges, starting in January with a public forum on the need for fiscal stimulus, which accompanied the release of a new Hamilton Project policy memo, a fiscal stimulus primer. In March, the Project tackled questions relating to the mortgage market in an event aimed at addressing the national foreclosure crisis. More recently, we focused our attention on the current crises in the housing and financial markets. Our September 23 event featured a high-level discussion on the current state of the financial markets with FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair and Hamilton Project Advisory Council members Lawrence Summers and Eric Mindich. The Hamilton Project also released proposals for new types of mortgages and for alleviating problems in the low-income housing market.

And this from the Hamilton Project:

Leaders from the business, academia, and the public policy community have joined together to launch The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. Consistent with its broad economic strategy, the Project will put forward innovative policy ideas from leading economic thinkers—ideas based on evidence and experience, not ideology and doctrine.

The Project’s economic strategy is built on three principles: that broad-based economic growth is stronger and more sustainable, that economic security and economic growth can be mutually reinforcing, and that effective government can enhance economic growth.

III. Obama’s Speech to the Hamilton Project.

Here is then-Senator Barack Obama’s speech at the opening of the Hamilton Project back in April, 2006 as taken from that original Firedoglake diary. Note again that a video clip of Obama’s speech can be found here:

I would love just to sit here with these folks [Bob Rubin, Roger Altman, Peter R. Orszag] and listen because you have on this panel and in this room some of the most innovative, thoughtful policymakers, people who have both ideas but also ways of implementing them into action. Our country owes a great debt to a number of people who are in this room because they helped put us on a pathway of prosperity that we are still enjoying, despite the best efforts of some. (Laughter)

I want to thank Bob [Rubin] and Roger [Altman] and Peter for inviting me to be here today. I wish I could be here longer. I am going to have to run after a few minutes because we do have an important issue relating to U.S.-India relations. But when Roger originally called to invite me, not only to this forum but to invite me to engage in this project, I couldn’t help but think that this was the sort of breath of fresh air that I think this town needs.

We have all known for some time that the forces of globalization have changed the rules of the game—how we work, how we prosper, how we compete with the rest of the word.

We all know that the coming baby boomers’ retirement will only add to the challenges that we face in this new era. Unfortunately, while the world has changed around us, Washington has been remarkably slow to adapt twenty-first century solutions for a twenty-first century economy. As so many of us have seen, both sides of the political spectrum have tended to cling to outdated policies and tired ideologies instead of coalescing around what actually works.

For liberals, and I include myself in that category, too many of us have been interested in defending programs the way they were written in 1938, believing that if we admit the need to modernize these programs to fit changing times, then the other side will use those acknowledgements to destroy them altogether. On the right, there is a tendency to push for massive tax cuts, as Peter indicated from my speech at Knox College, no matter what the cost or who the target is, a view that stems from the belief that there is no role for government whatsoever in the challenges we face. Of course, neither of these approaches really works.

[snip]

That is what I hope we will see from The Hamilton Project in the months and years to come. You have already drawn some of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles…. So I know that there are going to be wonderful ideas that are generated as a consequence of this project.

Not every idea will I embrace, and I hope that one of the roles that I can play, as a participant in this process, is to not only encourage the work but occasionally challenge it. I will give one simple example. I think that if you polled many of the people in this room, most of us are strong free traders and most of us believe in markets. …So, hopefully, this is not just going to be all of us preaching to the choir. Hopefully, part of what we are going to be doing is challenging our own conventional wisdom and pushing out the boundaries and testing these ideas in a vigorous and aggressive way.

But I can’t think of a better start, given the people who are participating today. I am glad that Brookings has been willing to provide a home for this wonderful effort.

Obama lays it all out: his ties to his friends (Bob Rubin, head of Goldman Sachs; and Peter Orszag of the Hamilton Project who now works in the Obama administration as Budget Chief); his belief in unfettered free trade (making a mockery of his NAFTA renegotiation pledge 2 years later in the heat of battle with Hillary); and, the need for cuts in entitlements.

Paul Street, in a brilliant analysis over at ZNet, shows exactly who Obama is and how he could make such a rapid ascent from obscurity to the Presidency:

I was not alone in seeing Obama as enjoying more than an outside chance at the White House in the near future. Other Left observers knew about Obama’s longstanding outsized ambition and his related "deeply conservative" ideological orientation and power-accommodating nature. We were aware of his early (late 2003-2004) and close vetting by the national political and financial class and of who really selects viable presidential candidates and winners – the corporate and imperial establishment. And we knew also that, as the brilliant left commentator and author-filmmaker John Pilger noted last June, Obama’s racial identity could be a "very seductive tool of propaganda" working on behalf of the ruling class.

Obama was understood early on to be a distinctly possible if not probable next president – despite or even because of his race. We felt that he offered the U.S. power elite and its authoritarian business and military order and global empire a much needed re-packaging – a symbolic overhaul and "re-branding" – that none of the other serious presidential contenders in the mix could safely provide to the same degree required in the wake of the Cheney-Bush nightmare. For me and a few other lefties I knew/know, there was little all that unlikely or surprising or remarkable about Obama’s rapid climb to the top of the American Empire. It all made perfect sense. The same goes for Obama’s performance as U.S. president so far.

…Obama, it seemed to me, was poised to profit from a killer combination in U.S. politics. He joined widespread popularity and a related illusory progressive identification among the citizenry to strong approval from elite financial, corporate, and military elites who determined his basic safety to existing dominant domestic and global hierarchies and doctrines. Sophisticated corporate and military power brokers, I was sure, calculated that his deceptive (as they knew, after vetting him) progressive imagery and related newness would be useful when it came to "managing [popular] expectations" that were certain to be heightened by the passing of the Cheney-Bush regime and era. "Who better," I thought I could hear members of the political and investor classes saying…. "who better than Obama – with his outwardly progressive credentials, his ‘community organizing’ past, and his non-traditional racial identity – to be the public face for the long-predicted massive taxpayer bailout of high finance? Who better than Obama (with his supposed ‘antiwar’ record and his Islamic-sounding name) to provide cover for the reconfiguration of U.S. military control of strategically hyper-significant Middle Eastern oil resources in the wake of Bush’s Iraq fiasco? Who better to safely channel popular angers and to attach alienated segments of the citizenry to the corporate and imperial state and to refashion America’s image around the world?"

Obama’s predictable (and predicted) betrayals of his more leftish campaign rhetoric and imagery have met only minimal and half-hearted opposition from what’s left of a U.S. left. Unjust wars and occupations, mega-bankers’ bailouts and other regressive policies that were seen as intolerable under the nominal rule of a boorish moron from Texas (George W. Bush) have become acceptable for many "progressives" when carried out by an eloquent and urbane black Democrat from Chicago (Barack Obama). A recent pathetic example – one of many – comes from the so-called liberal-left journal The Nation, whose bourgeois editor Katrina Vanden Huevel proclaims the following in an editorial titled "Obama, One Year On:" "Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policy on any specific issue, he is clearly a reform president committed to improvement of peoples’ lives and the renewal and reconstruction of America… Progressives should focus less on the limits of the Obama agenda and more on the possibilities that his presidency opens up"
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Ms. Vanden Heuvel announces here that she has fallen prey to what Chris Hedges, author of the recent book Empire of Illusion, calls "Brand Obama." As Hedges wrote last May:

"Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest."

"… The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Zappos.com. Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel [or because of crass and calculating motivations related to funding and perceived access to power at the upper ranks of the liberal Establishment - P.S.]."

Street’s entire analysis is quite long and may be the best expose of Obama in writing. When one reads it and couples it with David Sirota, Obama’s speech to the Hamilton Project then one can understand that Obama really was the perfect stealth candidate. Not only is he NOT a progressive, he is an ANTI-progressive who represents Goldman Sachs and the power elite of this country. After the bailouts, after the trillions given to Wall St. and the banks (Goldman got its investment in Obama repaid in the billions), after the escalation of war in Afghanistan, after Obama’s health "insurance reform", after the false unemployment summit, we likely will get what Bob Rubin also wants: an attack on entitlements.

Obama’s own words at the Hamilton Project opening show what he’s all about and it ain’t pretty and it ain’t progressive. Obama is Goldman Sachs’s salesman for the bailout for the escalation of an unpopular war and for a "limited government approach" to average Americans. Obama = antiprogressive.

Obama’s “Smoking Gun”: His Hamilton Project Speech shows his links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts (Part 1)

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

It’s the "smoking gun" that links Barack Obama with Bob Rubin-Goldman Sachs, free trade and cuts in entitlements. It’s the young Senator Barack Obama’s little commented on and little-known speech to the Hamilton Project in April, 2006, well before he became president.

Senator Barack Obama ran a stealth campaign for the presidency in which he took positions on issues that he obviously didn’t believe which explains why he jettisoned them early on (FISA; NAFTA renegotiation; DADT; DOMA etc.). But the REAL, unvarnished Obama was unveiled in a speech he gave as a Senator from Illinois in 2006. He spoke at the request of "my friend" Bob Rubin whose Goldman Sachs had just funded the Hamilton Project, a free trade think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution./>

I. Background: Why the Hamilton Project is Important.

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Obama’s Hamilton Project speech is vital to understanding the man since:

1) it shows the real Obama before his p.r./propaganda team repackaged him;

2) it shows his links, at an early age, to Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs; he’s been owned by Goldman ever since;

3) it shows Obama has long been a free trader and lied to get votes when he promised to renegotiate NAFTA. He had no such intention and is philosophically opposed to such a renegotiation. He made that promise (and flip-flopped on it) to pander for union votes in Ohio while fighting Hillary for the nomination;

4) it shows Obama is in the bag for what Goldman really wants: free trade AND cuts to entitlements (including social security and medicare).

Before we examine Obama’s Hamilton Project speech, let’s pay tribute to a much earlier diary right here at Firedoglake which exposed this years ago. Hats off to Kirk James Murphy, M.D., whose diary, "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine in New DLC Vessels" spelled this out back in February 13th, 2008. Dr. Murphy wrote in his diary this about the opening of the Hamilton Project:

Oh – the Senator who made time for the christening of the new corporatist think tank… the love child of the Clintons’ BFF Robert Rubin?
Sen Barack Obama.

The Hamilton Project was also written about even earlier by David Sirota (but he missed the Obama speech). Back in April, 2006, Sirota noted:

Wall Street Dems Unveil Plan to Undermine Progressives

Here’s a big shocker – the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party today announced it would be beginning its new war in earnest on the grassroots elements of the party that are demanding serious public policy changes. As the Financial Times reports, Citigroup Chairman Bob Rubin held a press conference at the Brookings Institution to announce the formation of the so-called "Hamilton Project." After paying lip service to various economic problems afflicting the country, Rubin and his former Treasury colleague Roger Altman quickly let it be known exactly what they are up to.

Here’s the key excerpt:

"At a time when Democrats have become more aggressive in voicing concerns about the foreign ownership of US assets, Roger Altman, former deputy Treasury secretary under Mr Clinton, added that more inclusive economic growth could also ‘blunt the political demands for protectionism’…[The group] said it was willing to take on entrenched Democratic interests, such as teaching unions. Policy papers unveiled on Wednesday proposed vouchers for summer schools…"

There it all is. First there’s the dishonest name-calling aimed at those courageous Democrats who are challenging the free trade orthodoxy that is destroying the lives of millions of American and foreign workers. Then there is the promise of an ensuing attack on the labor movement – a reflexive move, of course, for a bunch of corporate executives. And finally, the nod to efforts to defund public education through "vouchers."

None of this is surprising, of course. As head of Citigroup, Rubin has a financial interest in the agenda he’s pushing. And he’s made no apologies for the brazenness with which he pushes his corporatism. Remember, it was Rubin during the debate over the Central American Free Trade Agreement who demanded that congressional Democrats back off their efforts to include labor, human rights and environmental protections in the pact. He and his pals are the same people who rammed trade deals like NAFTA, WTO and China PNTR down the throats of Americans, and then left government service for the high life of the corporate boardroom. There, they reaped the rich financial rewards of the very sell-out policies they used public office to push, while millions of Americans saw their jobs outsourced, their wages frozen and their benefits slashed.

Oh sure, the group claims it is going to look at critical issues like income inequality – but you can be sure they will look at that issue without looking at issues like "free" trade that are fueling that inequality. Because make no mistake about it – this move today is nothing more than the beginning of a frontal attack by Corporate America on the progressive movement, using the Democratic Party as an all-too-transparent cloak of legitimacy.

I added emphasis to that last section because it is so important and has been proven to be what happened under Obama:

>"this move today (the founding of the Hamilton Project) is nothing more than the beginning of a frontal attack by Corporate America on the progressive movement, using the Democratic Party as an all-too-transparent cloak of legitimacy."

(to be continued)