One of the worst kept secrets of President Barack Obama’ first term in office is how closely aligned that administration and the members of the Democratic Party were with the interests of the financial sector, despite party members’ repeated insistence that they wanted nothing more than to curb Wall Street’s excesses. The well-heeled bankers at Goldman Sachs had little to fear from Democrats who professed their appreciation for the promise of the Occupy Wall Street movement while the institution’s members were filling Democratic pockets with campaign contributions. The financial community could rest easy knowing that Democrats were aware of who truly buttered their bread.
But the Democratic Party has begun to match its anti-Wall Street rhetoric with action since figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have risen to power. According to a Reuters exclusive, the trading sector of the economy has had it with the rhetoric of the Warren Wing of the Democratic Party, and they’re ready to do something about it.
“Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said,” Reuters reported.
Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.
Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington but it has been raised in one-on-one conversations between representatives of some of them. However, there was no agreement on coordinating any action, and each bank is making its own decision, they said.
The amount of money at stake, a maximum of $15,000 per bank, means the gesture is symbolic rather than material.
How brave. These banks and those who represent them would not dare force the Democratic Party to confront the fact that its future is more secure with the populist left than it is with the financial sector. Financial executives are intimately familiar with what Mother Jones journalist David Corn called “Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs problem.” They know that Clinton faces pressure from her left to appeal to progressive populists who are deeply suspicious of Wall Street, and they feel their influence waning. They want to issue a warning shot, but they desperately want to avoid sparking a war.
As for Warren and those like her, surely she is just agonizing over this display of pique from the financial community. Her image as a populist progressive reformer is only advanced by this “symbolic” protest. While this is a setback for Clinton, who will struggle a bit more than she would like to raise campaign cash from Wall Street bankers, Elizabeth Warren and her supporters are celebrating.