Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 17, 2010

BOEHNER TIES HIMSELF IN KNOTS.... After reports surfaced yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission is going after Goldman Sachs, both sides of the political divide tried to seize on the news to make a larger point. Only one side made sense.

For Democrats, the case was pretty easy -- Goldman Sachs' alleged wrongdoing only reinforces the obvious need to pass Wall Street reform, bringing new safeguards and accountability to the financial system. For congressional Republicans, the argument was a little trickier.

Republicans sought to tie President Barack Obama to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs after it was hit with civil fraud charges.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against the Wall Street titan, calling the firm a "key supporter" of the president's bid to reform the nation's financial regulatory system.

"These are very serious charges against a key supporter of President Obama's bill to create a permanent Wall Street bailout fund," Boehner said Friday in the statement. "Despite President Obama's rhetoric, his permanent bailout bill gives Goldman Sachs and other big Wall Street banks a permanent, taxpayer-funded safety net by designating them 'too big to fail.' Just whose side is President Obama on?" [...]

Boehner's office also pointed to Goldman employees having collectively contributed more than almost any other company or institution to Obama during the presidential campaign.

Boehner's analysis of the legislation is, on its face, idiotic. But putting the obvious legislative nonsense aside, I can't quite wrap my head around Boehner's political point.

To hear the dimwitted Minority Leader put it, the Obama administration and Goldman Sachs are close allies, and the administration-backed reform bill is intended to help firms like Goldman Sachs. And we now know for sure that administration officials are carrying water for Goldman Sachs because ... they just charged Goldman Sachs with fraud.


I'm trying to imagine the conversation in Boehner's office when the statement was being written. Which genius on Boehner's staff discovered that the Obama administration is going after Goldman Sachs, regardless of its campaign contributions to Obama, and thought, "A ha! Now we've got 'em!"

Let me try to explain this is a way even Boehner can understand: when the Securities and Exchange Commission accuses a major Wall Street firm of fraud, that's not good for the firm. If the administration were trying to do favors for Goldman Sachs, it wouldn't file a civil lawsuit against the firm.

"Just whose side is President Obama on?" Well, as of yesterday, he doesn't appear to be on Goldman's side. Given that Republicans are trying to shield Wall Street for accountability and safeguards, the better question is, "Whose side is Boehner on?"

Steve Benen 9:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Goldman Sachs has been extraordinarily connected to both sides. It has worked hard to cultivate good relations with both Bush and Obama administration. Key Goldman Sachs people have been and are key players in both administrations. This is definately a case of the pot calling the kettle black. That the Obama administration has had the balls to take on Goldman Sachs directly shows me that Obama understands that the folks at Goldman's attempts to manipulate the economy for their advantage threatened the future of billions of people across the world. They have gotten too big to succeed.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 17, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Sometimes I.E.S.'s (Improvised Explosive Statements) detonate in the maker's hand. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 17, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Boner's not even trying anymore.

Seriously, considering the scope of the economic disaster the world faced in 2008 because of these "designed to fail" securities, who besides a fawning sycophant, former employee or kept pol would even lift a finger to help Goldman Sacks (sic)?

Posted by: Former Dan on April 17, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like Little Johnny BoneHead has been consulting with Batsh!t-Crazy Shelly Bachmann when crafting his press releases again. When will he ever learn?

Posted by: Bo on April 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm trying to imagine the conversation in Boehner's office when the statement was being written.

I can help you with that. The conclusion on this point was that the rubes won't notice.

Posted by: fly on the wall on April 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Prediction of the next wingnut talking point: Obama must have been shorting Goldman Sachs stock--he's learned well from his masters.

Posted by: RSA on April 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

You are making a big mistake in your logic.

On the Republican side, facts are irrelevant. This is a game they play constantly.

The question is - will the MSLP play it as legitimate criticism. I'm betting YES!

Posted by: Mark-NC on April 17, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner's office also pointed to Goldman employees having collectively contributed more than almost any other company or institution to Obama during the presidential campaign.

And here lies the talking point trying to tie individual donors via their employer to Obama. I guess the janitor who donated $25 to Obama has a vested interest in this and Obama was thinking of that janitor and all the other individuals who identify themselves as "associates", "banker", "accoutant", "lawyer", and other low level employees of a giant firm. They did the same shit with AIG. Anyone can seek individual donors at the FEC.gov website by name or employer, total the amount and say lookie here, GS donated a gazillion to Obama, therefore.....blah, blah, blah. I found 2033 individuals at the FEC from GS ranging from $10 to $2300 to all Presidential candidates.

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Any pol who uses the word "permanent" vis a vis our democratic institutions so many times is bat-shit crazy and should be voted out of office.

If Boehner wins in November, I blame the doltish voters in his district! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 17, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

And yet, Steve would have us believe that the 'Share' menu that automatically pops up if your mouse strays across it and requires closing, is that way for our benefit.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on April 17, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

I'll have to remember this the next time I go to beat up a bully. The fact that I decide to attack the bully for being a bully, means that I support his bullying.
OUCH!!! I think I just pulled somehing in my medulla oblongata!
Well, unlike Republicans and Teabaggers, at least I have a medulla, even if I did just injure it...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 17, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

You're still trying to find any kind of sense in any Republican talking point? They lie, lie, lie and lie again and again. They couldn't care less of the truth. Problem is, they have enough people believing their crap.

Posted by: impik on April 17, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

some punk staffer drafted Boehner's statement.

Posted by: apeman on April 17, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked, truly shocked that twice failed Presidential candidate McCain accepted contributions from Goldman Sachs. The amount is stagering and shows he is beholden to this giant financial institution. Simply use drop down menu under donor's name and select employer and type in goldman sachs.


Posted by: flyonthewall on April 17, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner is relying on the fact that the MSM won't even scratch the surface of this issue. We know Tea partiers are reflexively against anything Obama does. So, they'll just parrot whatever Boehner says without question. Fox and the MSM will do the same. The only difference will be the MSM will report a fake equivalency between what's actually in the bill and the right-wing talking points. What will be lost in the whole public relations food fight will be the fact that the banks are still too interconnected to fail (see Table 2, page 4); that we need new regulations because current regulations don't address this; that doing nothing means permanent bailouts; that the Republican strategy of obstruct, demand bipartisanship, stall, and kill any efforts by Democrats to fix the problem is all designed to do nothing; and lastly, that having the federal government do nothing is exactly what these large complex financial institutions want.

Ideally, we would get a comparative analysis of Democratic policy solution vs. Republican policy solution on this crucial issue. But, instead what we'll most likely get is a comparative analysis of Democratic policy solution vs. right wing talking points.

Posted by: John Henry on April 17, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

The DOJ leaps to the attack against Goldman for cheating some institutional investors out of a couple of billion. This instance of illegality - if that's what it was - was not what caused the recession. The Obama administration is still a long way from any significant financial reform. Boehner may be the pot calling the kettle black but that doesn't mean that the kettle isn't black.

Posted by: skeptonomist on April 17, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner ties himself in knots? Impressive!

Posted by: beep52 on April 17, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Could someone please come up with a map that shows the districts in this country that elected these subhumans to office. it would be most beneficial to avoid areas populated by zombies.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 17, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

some punk staffer drafted Boehner's statement.

--Well played, Sir!

Posted by: Decatur Dem on April 17, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I love your blog, but this post is another example of you calling the Republican leadership dimwitted without justification. Boehner, McConnell, etc. aren't being stupid when they say things that are patently false. They are knowingly lying and relying on mainsteam media outlets to write he-said-she-said stories without analysis.

It's not stupid for the GOP to create their own reality. Given the media environment and the party platform, it's the best strategy they have. And, they execute it pretty well.

Posted by: CMB on April 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

We all should know by now that the cons don't have to make sense. It's futile to try to parse any of their statements. All they have to do is mention Obama's name/the Democrats in the same breath with one or more evils. There are thousands of voters just waiting for any excuse to believe the worst about them.

Posted by: CDW on April 17, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Umm, the SEC is an independent agency. It's not like the Obama administration pressed the charges.

Couldn't the administration be trying to help Goldman, in spite of the SEC?

Posted by: Chris on April 17, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner is the dumbest fuck on either side of the aisle. And that is saying plenty with the strong competition at hand. What is in the Ohio water that they have elected this idiot? He is not a smart conservative, he is just a stupid (even in his tactical sense of the world) person.

Posted by: imapopulistnow on April 17, 2010 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Please bear with me while I rant on. I have never voted other than Republican because I fear the inefficiencies of big government. That said, in 2008 we faced an economic crisis on monumental proportions. McCain in fact suspended his campaign to return to Washington and work with the Republicans on a business based economic recovery package. But who does he run into? One bonehead Boehner who tactically (or perhaps philosophically) believes that this was the appropriate time to call for budget cuts and fiscal austerity. OK, so the nation is falling into a deep and uncharted abyss and there is some moron in DC who says the solution is to cut the budget, reduce capital gains taxes and hunker down? This was a real WTF moment. You could tell even McCain was befuddled. He admits he doesn't know a lot about the economy, but even he had enough common sense to understand that when the patient is dying, perhaps a blood transfusion or two might be helpful before initiating the tough love. Long story short, I voted for Obama. The first time I have ever not voted for a Republican and my decision was based 100% on the idiocy of John Boehner. I concluded that it would be better to have Democrats piss away money on unproductive initiatives (which they have) than to have Republicans choke to death an already frail and sick economy. I think my judgment was sound at the time and now that the most critical elements of the crisis have passed, I cannot wait to vote against the big spending Democrats, but this time perhaps for a libertarian seeing as how Boehner still represents the thinking of the Republican Party.

Posted by: imapopulistnow on April 17, 2010 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

The damage to Goldman is going to go way beyond a chump-change SEC fine. They will have to make good the people who bought their CDO product, and may lose some big clients. Damage probably in the $billions.
Funny way to treat an ally.

Posted by: bob h on April 18, 2010 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

My personal question: What drug is Boehner smoking, and can I have any?

Posted by: Matthew Goldfinch on May 5, 2010 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

@admin: I just have to say your website is the first I've come across this morning that doesn't have spelling errors every other sentence. Thanks for taking the time to construct something that doesn't look like a 6th grader wrote. I apologize, just had to vent.

Posted by: Lanie Haynie on November 16, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK



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