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HYPOCRITE: Obama Caught in $400,000 Scandal
Nick Knupffer / CCL
Among his constituents, Barack Obama claimed to oppose big banks, Wall Street brokers and corporate giants. But for an American president who identifies himself with the underprivileged, Obama seems to be surprisingly cozy with Wall Street.
In just one example of his special relationship with deep-pocketed bankers, Obama was reportedly paid $400,000 to provide brief remarks at an event for Wall Street giant Cantor Fitzgerald.
In fact, the former president has been raking in millions between private speeches for wealthy corporate donors and a generous book deal since leaving the White House. Somewhere north of $70 million to be exact.
For a president who once said: “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” that’s a good chunk of change.
Hope and spare change
After comparing the violent thuggery on display during the 2010 Occupy Wall Street protests to the organized and peaceful conservative Tea Party movement, Obama sympathized with the working classes while sharply rebuking his future corporate enablers.
Obama told ABC News that year:
The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side, and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded. And that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers that those folks aren’t rewarded.
Now, the former president is hypocritically taking money from those he called “irresponsible” and “reckless.”
The first of many paid speeches, Obama’s talk at Fitzgerald’s event took place just months after he left the White House, and has raised some eyebrows among his fellow party members. Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf disapproved of Obama’s money-making venture in an interview with Fox News:
He went on the attack against Wall Street and now he’s being fed by those same people he called fat cats. It’s more hypocritical than ironic.
Following the Fitzgerald gig, Obama gave a very discreet speech with Carlyle, a private equity firm based out of Washington with powerful political connections.
Notably, Obama vetoed a 2016 bill that aimed to curb the post-presidential pensions for those who earned $400,00 or more from outside sources.
“The Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and sponsor of the 2016 bill, USA Today reported. “His veto was very self-serving.”
Another group busting the bank to hear Obama speak was the New York-based Northern Trust Corporation, who reportedly paid the former president $400,000 for a keynote address to their clients. Remarkably, in 2005, Northern Trust provided Obama with an unusually generous $1.3 million loan to finance his 6,500-square-foot Chicago residence.
The Washington Post reported that Obama paid no origination fees for the loan and received an interest rate superior to the average terms offered at the time. A federal regulator investigating the deal ultimately reported that Northern Trust gave Obama such favorable terms out of a desire “to build a relationship with a successful couple.”
These speaking arrangements should help supplement a lucrative book deal, worth as much as $65 million, that Penguin Random House has signed with Obama and his wife for the rights to their post-presidency autobiographies. Notably, during a 2010 speech in Quincy, Illinois, Obama offered his thoughts on earning extreme profits for minimal work.
Then, Obama told Americans, “We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
The many faces of Barack Obama
Despite styling himself as a champion of the lower classes, Obama’s anti-corporate public persona was radically opposed to his political agenda throughout his presidency. Assuming office during a recession that was driven by corporate greed and financial mismanagement from banking giants, Obama failed to pursue charges against a single person or entity for their role in the temporary financial collapse of the world market.
Additionally, Obama refused to dismantle the nation’s biggest banks, and his administration’s regulatory oversight did little to slow the massive profits seeping into the vaults of America’s most powerful banking monopolies.
Still, the president insisted that he stood with the Occupy movement and opposed corporate greed.
Political corruption expert Jeff Hauser of Revolving Door Project says that because Obama is “continuing to exercise the authority” in Washington among Democrats, he should abstain from the extensive corporate affairs and generous speaking subsidies. Hauser suggests that if Obama wishes to continue leading Democratic Party efforts, then “he ought to forgo a few hundred thousand here and maybe a half-million there.”
But such is the circle of wealth among pay-to-play liberals. Corporate wealth is used to enrich the same politicians who publicly align themselves with the poor, while these same lawmakers insist on policies that keep the lower classes perpetually dependent on the state.
Obama is just the latest embodiment of this hypocrisy. Like most of the actions committed during his administration, however, Obama finds himself uniquely held above reproach from even his financially untainted supporters.
Fellow Democrats like former Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides will never hold him accountable. When asked how he felt about Obama’s highly-paid speeches, Nides enthusiastically replied: “I love Barack Obama, and if someone is willing to pay him to give a speech, God bless America.”
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