Goldman Sachs CEO “Doing God’s Work”
FOR easy joke, just add one part reference to male anatomy.
A few nights ago, talking about Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Stephen Colbert tried that recipe when he remarked that Blankfein “showed true Goldman Sac[h]” after the top-earning CEO told a newspaper he is “doing God’s work.”
“I have always believed that bankers are God’s representatives on Earth. They’re like the Pope – if the Vatican was incorporated in Delaware.”
— Stephen Colbert
In a recent interview with London paper The Sunday Times, not only did Blankfein claim divine purpose, he also referred to himself as just a “blue-collar guy.” Sure – if that blue collar is attached to a Swedish Eton dress shirt with diamond-encrusted studs and cufflinks, priced at a mere $45,000 a pop. The guy may take home a $68 million salary, but that doesn’t mean he can’t keep it real.
In his divine pursuit, Blankfein found it in his heart to ensure the bank giant Goldman Sachs doled out subprime mortgages to thousands of his fellow blue-collar Americans. And when those loans went bad, and homes were repossessed –well, that was just God’s way of guiding us away from such material pursuits as owning a home.
The Times article threw out revolting examples of excess in the form of Goldman Sachs salaries.
“Average pay this recessionary year for the 30,000 staff is expected to be a record $700,000. Top earners will get tens of millions…”
— The Sunday Times of London
Wall Street/Big Bank greed isn’t news, but it does continue to enrage post-bailout, tax-paying Americans as every week we hear new reports about record profits here, excessive separation packages there and outrageous executive salaries everywhere – particular those being paid out by the same banks that took taxpayer dollars just months ago to stay afloat.
The Dodd Plan for Reform
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) introduced a bill in the Senate Banking Committee last week that his office calls “a tough, bold bill to reform the way that our financial system is regulated.” Dodd’s sales pitch to the American people continued in only slightly less vague, baby-kissing, God-bless-all-you-hard-working-Americans campaign language.
“Our plan will stop abusive practices by creating an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency with one mission: standing up for consumers. Whether taking out a mortgage, getting a credit card, or investing for retirement, Americans deserve to receive clear and accurate information, to be protected from hidden fees and abusive terms, and to know that the financial products they’re being offered are safe,” Dodd said at a press conference where he and eight other Democratic Senators introduced the bill.
Dodd’s front-and-center role on this bill wouldn’t be so laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that he was the single largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the 10 years leading up to the federal home loan crisis. Dodd, along with fellow Democratic Sen. John Kerry, and former Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, were the top four recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions from 1988 to 2008.
It will be interesting to see if Congressional Democrats and the White House can sell this reform bill better than they did health care reform – an effort that often reminded me of poor, bumbling Tommy Boy, crossing the country, trying to sell brake pads.