Which is the party of Wall Street fat cats?

The Los Angeles Times notices that the same Wall Street fat cats that the populist Democratic presidential candidates have excoriated have become their biggest fans. Do these executives really like the wealth redistribution and heavy taxation that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promise? Or are they inoculating themselves by making both candidates reliant on donations from the financial-services sector?

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who are running for president as economic populists, are benefiting handsomely from Wall Street donations, easily surpassing Republican John McCain in campaign contributions from the troubled financial services sector.

It is part of a broader fundraising shift toward Democrats, compared to past campaigns when Republicans were the favorites of Wall Street. …

These concerned Democrats argue that their candidates, and presumptive Republican nominee McCain, should be willing to push for financial institutions to accept more government regulation — in exchange for likely future bailouts, such as the recent deal the Federal Reserve orchestrated for JPMorgan Chase & Co. to take over Bear Stearns Cos.

“I want to hear Clinton, Obama and McCain talk about a quid pro quo,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist with the Democratic-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “If we don’t hear it, especially from Democrats, it makes sense to ask why not and ask if they are inappropriately cozy with the financial services industry.”

Make no mistake about it — the financial sector wants big connections to whomever gets elected to the White House.  They face some tough times in the next couple of years, and they want to have access to the Oval Office.  They want friendly treatment on regulation, but also access to bailouts when necessary to ensure against collapse of their markets.

Hillary and Obama have spent the better part of the last two years railing against these very interests.  Yet they seem happy to collect their contributions and use their fundraising efforts.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that both would support the agenda of these contributors, but it certainly doesn’t indicate that they reject it, either.  Once again, it calls into question exactly how much voters should believe in the Democratic rhetoric, as Obama’s NAFTA Dance highlighted earlier this month.

Why haven’t these interests thrown as much money at John McCain?  Perhaps they figure he’s already sympathetic to their interests, but if so, it would make more sense to support McCain’s candidacy against both Hillary and Obama.  Maybe they think McCain isn’t for sale and that showering him with cash won’t net the same return.