Alternate headline: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — and treasure is the operative word here. Almost a year after deciding to fully indulge in class warfare, Barack Obama’s former Wall Street donors have voted with their feet and moved to Mitt Romney. The eat-the-rich rhetoric that helped inspire the Occupy movement is literally costing the Obama campaign millions of dollars in 2012:
Now, thanks to campaign finance filings, it’s possible to put a price tag on just how much: Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting it are outraising Obama among financial-sector donors $37.1 million to $4.8 million.
Near the front of the pack are 19 Obama donors from 2008 who are giving big to Romney.
The 19 have already given $4.8 million to Romney’s presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting it through the end of April, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. Four years ago, they gave Obama $213,700.
None of them has given a penny to the president’s reelection campaign or the super PAC supporting it.
Recall in 2008 that Obama won the Wall Street sweepstakes, back when he could afford to run as nothing more than an agent of Hope and Change. That was true before the financial crisis late in the election cycle in 2008, but probably intensified at that point, with John McCain’s seeming aimlessness on how to deal with it. These donors thought they were backing a Democratic moderate along the lines of Bill Clinton, someone who wanted to push some regulation — which always benefits the bigger players at the expense of smaller players — but who would understand how much Democrats needed Wall Street.
Obviously, they miscalculated, and not just on temperament but also on competence. Ken Griffin, the chief executive of the hedge fund Citadel, speaks openly of his contempt for Obama’s “class warfare.” Another hedge-fund manager, Anthony Scaramucci, cites the rudderless economic policies of the Obama administration and the chronic malaise it has produced as evidence that the country needs new and more competent leadership. Furthermore, Obama isn’t helping his own cause at all with continued class-warfare attacks like this one on Tuesday:
“He seems to believe that if CEOs and wealthy investors like him are doing well, then the rest us automatically do well,” Obama said of Romney on Tuesday at a campaign event in Baltimore. “What a lot of current Republicans don’t seem to get is that a healthy economy doesn’t just mean you’re maximizing your own profits through massive layoffs and busting unions. You don’t make America stronger by shipping jobs and profits overseas.”
Can you count the populist strawmen in that statement? When investors don’t do well, neither does anyone else, and jobs don’t get created. If investors can’t make capital work in the US because of regulatory ambiguity and adventurism and a tax overhang that threatens to wipe out any profits, then they will invest “overseas” where they can put their capital to work. No one is “busting unions” any longer; unions pretty much do that on their own through their own extremism and stridency. And since only a very small portion of the population are in private-sector unions at all, exactly who is Obama trying to reach with this economic silliness that hasn’t already bought it?
Obama’s problem on Wall Street was that it was easy to fool donors there the first time around, when he had no record to defend. This time, they’re looking for someone who really knows what he’s doing on economic policy.