Matt Taibbi on Obama’s big sellout to Wall Street

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has a hard-hitting new piece on the Obama administration’s “Big Sellout” to Wall Street… Here’s a clip:

…What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside…

And here he is talking about the piece:

Let me know what you think.

Update: The American Prospect has a good piece today, detailing the many factual errors in Taibbi’s piece. Here’s a clip”

Matt Taibbi has done it again — written a nightmare of a story for Rolling Stone on Obama’s economic sell-out of his campaign. The piece is a factual mess, a conspiracy theorist’s dream, doesn’t even indict Obama for his real failures (which I’ll discuss in a post later today) and of course invokes the cold hands of Bob Rubin like a bogeyman at every turn. This is pernicious for a lot of journalistic reasons, but politically it’s bad for progressives beacuse conspiracy theories stand in the way of good policy analysis and good activism, replacing them with apathy and fear. Here we go:

• Jamie Rubin. James P. Rubin is a former Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration and not Bob Rubin’s son. He informally helped Hillary Clinton transition into her role as Secretary of State. James S. Rubin is Bob Rubin’s son, and had a similarly unofficial role in the economic transition. Neither were on staff, on the advisory boards, or on an agency review team.

• Austan Goolsbee “didn’t make the cut.” Goolsbee remains one of Obama’s key economic advisers and has the president’s ear from his posts on the National Economic Council and the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He skipped transition work and went to work immediately in those posts….

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  1. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    It ain’t laissez-faire if government is involved (with artificially low interest rates, legal tender laws mandating the use of government-issued fiat currency, and taxpayer funded bailouts, for example).

    Somebody needs to buy a dictionary.

  2. Jules
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    While I have a lot of respect for Matt, in general, and I absolutely agree with his overarching thesis, he commits a huge boo boo here. Jamie Rubin is NOT Robert Rubin’s son. I don’t know how he could have made such an amateurish mistake.

  3. Oliva
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I like Taibbi too and appreciate his work, but, like some other valuable voices (Naomi Klein is one–big appeal, despite some gaping holes and mistakes), they’re human, with agendas of their own; some of what they say is spiked with an energy that doesn’t necessarily correspond to well-rounded thinking.

    I just think we need healthy grains of salt while reviewing their arguments–it’s just maybe trickier because they’re bright than in cases of flagrant screwballs. (The ghostwritten Palin op-ed in WaPo the other day directly contradicts her public statements, such as to Couric. [I like how she came out attacking Al Gore personally and then cowered when asked if she’d debate him. An airy screwball.] Taibbi is smart and isn’t a coward, which is nice, and he expands the discussion in important ways. [Why I bring up SP in this context is not the brightest move, but I’m still flu-ish and not thinking so well.])

    Here from American Prospect, a snippet from “Tapped,” the group blog, a retort to a response to the original Taibbi piece, one among many thoughtful reactions:

    Taibbi has written an article arguing that Obama has sold out his campaign-era economic populism by surrounding himself with Bob Rubin’s lackeys and giving away the farm to the bankers — “one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history.” Only it turns out, though, that many of the Rubinites he identifies don’t work on the things he says they work on, or don’t take the positions he applies to them, or aren’t as influential as he thinks they are. The people he says were “banished” from Obama’s inner circle, like Austan Goolsbee, weren’t. He manages not to mention any of the populist decisions Obama has made. These things ought to raise questions.

    . . . In other news, yesterday the House passed an omnibus financial regulatory reform bill over the objections of Republicans and the financial industry. Is it perfect? Far from it, especially in the derivatives area. But it does have the version of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that [Elizabeth] Warren says is strong . . .

  4. Posted December 12, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Great information, Oliva. Thank you… And, Jules, I wasn’t aware of that he’d misidentified Rubin. If you’re right, it’s a huge gaff, and Taibbi and Rolling Stone should held accountable. My guess is they don’t have much of a fact checking operation there, but, if they’re going to be publishing pieces like this, they really need one. It’s inexcusable… And, BA, as for the definition of laissez-faire, I was always under the impression that it denoted limited government intervention, not the complete absence of government.

  5. Oliva
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    My Webster’s (and the online, same edition) gives this:

    Main Entry: lais·sez–faire
    Pronunciation: \ˌle-ˌsā-ˈfer, ˌlā-, -ˌzā-\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: French laissez faire, imperative of laisser faire to let (people) do (as they choose)
    Date: 1825

    1 : a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights
    2 : a philosophy or practice characterized by a usually deliberate abstention from direction or interference especially with individual freedom of choice and action

    laissez–faire adjective

    My sister’s old American Heritage Dictionary used to show for its picture by the word igloo a sled dog in front of a very-hard-to-detect igloo (picture quality not so great), which prompted her and her friends to call dogs “igloos.”

  6. Posted December 13, 2009 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I just deleted a comment by Brackinald Achery by accident. Here it is:

    Edit — remove my parentheses and the “for example.”

    Sorry, Brack.

  7. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    No problem. As this keeps happening, but I truly believe you’re not doing it on purpose, I expect my name involuntarily triggers the “delete spam” portion of your white-speckled gray matter before your higher brain functions can overrule it.

  8. kjc
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    fact-checking the fact check.

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