America Is Angry; Why Are Obama Aides Still Fretting About Elite Opinion?


The crack reporting team at the New York Times gives us a huge scoop: Newsflash - America is really really angry at a government that keeps giving away taxpayer cash to banks while telling us we need to solve a deficit problem by potentially slashing Social Security. What a shocking scoop...only, ya know, a few months late (but hey, better late than never).

What I find newsy about this story is the subtext highlighted in this excerpt:

The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama's agenda...

Even as Mr. Summers was denouncing A.I.G. for the bonuses, he suggested that there was little if anything the government could do to stop them, seconding the conclusion of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

So, what we see is A) an administration more worried about the populist anger's consequences for its image rather than its utility in passing an aggressive agenda and B) Wall Street sycophants like Summers and Geithner continuing to push a red herring that says there's nothing that can be done to stop corporations from using our taxpayer money to subsidize bonuses for the same executives who created this economic crisis. In short, what we see here is an administration more worried about elite opinion - and more willing to echo elite opinionmakers' canards - than about seeing this populist moment as an opportunity.

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