The American political elite, Obama included, is tied by a thousand strings to the financial aristocracy. The Obama administration is populated by individuals who have parlayed their political positions into lucrative positions in finance. Virtually the entire cabinet fits this billing—not only Tom Daschle, the former senator who withdrew his nomination for the Secretary of Health and Human Services amidst revelations that he had withheld tens of thousands in taxes owed on payments he received from his corporate sponsors.
Yesterday it came to light that Leon Panetta, Obama’s nominee for chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, took home more than $1 million last year through payments from corporations for consulting, speaking appearances and through his membership on corporate boards. He was paid handsomely for speeches by financial firms that have since collapsed, including $56,000 by Merrill Lynch and $28,000 by Wachovia. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have also used their political connections to make millions from the same financial elite that would ostensibly be targeted by Obama’s rules on executive pay.
Obama knows very well that when he leaves office he will be able to make millions of dollars, as Bill Clinton, the last Democratic president, and countless other leading politicians have done. Nor would this be a departure for Obama, whose career was taken into hand early on by leading financial and political figures in Chicago.
The subordination of the whole of society to the financial aristocracy is most clearly expressed in the massive bailout of Wall Street. Its political representatives, Democrats and Republican alike, hand over trillions to the biggest banks, while providing no provisions for the masses of people who have lost their jobs and homes.
Millions of workers who voted for Obama are now coming face to face with the fact that his administration will defend the interests of the financial elite every bit as ruthlessly, if with a slightly different presentation, as the Bush administration.
The solution to the economic crisis is not a technical question but a social, political and revolutionary settling of accounts, and a historical necessity. read more