Friday, April 30, 2010

Dodd Puts The Schmooze on Fat Cat Wall Street Donors

The New York Post is reporting that fat cat Wall Street donors will be opening their wallets to support the candidacy of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, now in the process of rhetorically whipping the donors on behalf of President Barack Obama and a host of Democrats who hope to run against Wall Street in the upcoming elections, will be mixing his blood with the Wall Street gangsters.

Contributors, according to the Post report, will be paying upwards of $10,000 per person to attend the event to be held at the home of investment executive Ralph Schlosstein and deep pocket donor Jane Hartley.

“The guest list,” according to the report, “includes JP Morgan honcho David Topper, Wall Street lawyer Dick Beattie, hedge-fund investor James Torrey and ex-Clinton Treasury big Roger Altman.”

"The event,” said Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter, “is not an industry event. It is being hosted by some of the leading Democratic donors in New York City, many of whom have supported Senator Gillibrand since her first run for Congress. Senator Gillibrand's support for strong financial reform proves there is zero conflict.”

It is supposed that Dodd, who is leaving the U.S. Senate when his term expires, can have no conflict of interest either. The conflict, if any there be, rests with the contributors.

Assuming Wall Street is not either mad or seriously deluded – a doubtful assumption evidently not embraced by the apparatchiks who would very much like to clap greedy Wall Street financiers in a regulatory straight jacket – one must ask what the donations to Gillibrand will be purchasing, other than the regulatory rope Dodd and his likely successor, Connecticut's crusading Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, will use to hang the Wall Street honchos?

Dodd’s ramble with rich Wall Street donors also caught the attention of Ezra Klein of the Washington Post.

Why do Democrats court danger in this reckless manner, Klein asked?

His answer: “It's because, to use a metaphor that's in vogue right now, our system of campaign finance turns politicians into vampire squids wrapped around the wallets of the rich, relentlessly jamming their blood funnels into anything that smells like money.”

That almost certainly is not the case with Dodd, at least in this instance, because Dodd gave up on politics shortly after it had given up on him. He is preparing to retire, possibly to Ireland, an enlighten country that reduced its once onerous business taxes to 12.5 percent, 7 percent lower than that of the United States, and experienced a rapid industrial growth that made the Emerald Isle the envy of Europe.

No, Dodd’s Cromwellian reforms of the banking system are tied to a bad conscience; the soon to be ex-senator needs no money for future campaigns.

It is the response of the Wall Street millioniare to Dodd that is astonishing. Carried in the tumbrels to the guillotine, transfixed at the blade above them, they still give of themselves – and willingly too – to the executioner, who is always glad to accept the offerings of those to whom he soon intends to bit a fond farewell.

To revert to the metaphor employed by Klein, it is the squid whose motivation is opaque.

One understands the squeezing. Over a period of years, congress has erected a Byzantine superstructure of taxes and tax exemptions, which in turn has produced an army of labor and business connected lobbyists that spends millions paying agents to stroke politicians for the purpose of obtaining more exemptions and favors. Along the way, some liberal congressionally favored pets – Countrywide, Fannie and Freddie Mac among them -- become too large to fail; and even when they do fail most spectacularly, still they are hand fed tax dollars by such as Dodd and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank.

There are, indeed, many varieties of squid in the congressional sea. Liberals such as Dodd tend to regard the embrace of the labor squid as a warm and affectionate love touch. But why the Wall Street squid should be so anxious to surrender its campaign contributions to politicians that have locked it in a fatal embrace is a mystery hardly touched by Klein’s analysis.
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