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The Willie Sutton theory of fundraising

Posted By Russ Roberts On October 4, 2011 @ 11:40 pm In Financial Markets,Politics | Comments Disabled

I meant to blog on this months ago, but it really tells you all you need to know about the protests on Wall Street and the reality of politics vs. the illusions many people labor under. From the New York Times back in June [1]:

A few weeks before announcing his re-election campaign, President Obama [2] convened two dozen Wall Street executives, many of them longtime donors, in the White House’s Blue Room.

The guests were asked for their thoughts on how to speed the economic recovery, then the president opened the floor for over an hour on hot issues like hedge fund regulation and the deficit.

Mr. Obama, who enraged many financial industry executives a year and a half ago by labeling them “fat cats” and criticizing their bonuses, followed up the meeting with phone calls to those who could not attend.

The event, organized by the Democratic National Committee, kicked off an aggressive push by Mr. Obama to win back the allegiance of one of his most vital sources of campaign cash — in part by trying to convince Wall Street that his policies, far from undercutting the investor class, have helped bring banks and financial markets back to health.

Last month, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, traveled to New York for back-to-back meetings with Wall Street donors, ending at the home of Marc Lasry, a prominent hedge fund manager, to court donors close to Mr. Obama’s onetime rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton. And Mr. Obama will return to New York this month to dine with bankers, hedge fund executives and private equity [3] investors at the Upper East Side restaurant Daniel.

“The first goal was to get recognition that the administration has led the economy from an unimaginably difficult place to where we are today,” said Blair W. Effron, an investment banker closely involved in Mr. Obama’s fund-raising efforts. “Now the second goal is to turn that into support.”

Later on, the article discusses Romney’s ability to raise cash from Wall Street. That apparently continues to be a problem for Obama but it’s really our problem. Politicians go to Wall Street because that’s where the money is. The money is there because politicians help them. Bad symbiotic relationship. It’s the single most important thing that has to be fixed if we’re going to ever try capitalism in this country instead of crony capitalism.

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[1] From the New York Times back in June: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/us/politics/13donor.html

[2] President Obama: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/barack_obama/index.html?inline=nyt-per

[3] private equity: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/private_equity/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier

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