Now that he’s left the White House, Obama is starting to show some interesting colors his supporters may not have been aware of. According to The Washington Examiner, now that Obama is no longer in the political spotlight, he’s been sidling up to the rich looking to cash in. Last month, he was paid $400,000 to deliver a speech to Wall Street and has another speech lined up for next week.
For former presidents, giving speeches to Wall Street executives, titans of industry, and other such individuals is a huge cash cow that can be milked for a long time. CNN reports that Hillary and Bill Clinton were able to make more than $153 million for speeches given for 15 years, and they were only making $200,000 a speech, half of Obama’s going rate.
Despite Obama’s perceived irritation with Wall Street for not paying its “fair share,” he doesn’t seem opposed to tapping into some of the profits through that venue.
Robert Wolf, an executive for UBS Group AG, says Obama’s experience as president is in demand and he never had an issue with Wall Street anyway. “He was the President of the entire United States – financial services are under that umbrella. He doesn’t look at Wall Street like, ‘Oh, these are individuals who don’t want the best for the country.’ He doesn’t stereotype,” Wolf said.
His speeches may be an attempt to further the Left’s financial agendas and cash in at the same time. What would be more troubling is if these speeches are somehow compensation for special treatment during his time in office.
After all, according to Daily Beast, this was the same president who bailed out banks and failed to prosecute those who caused the recession in 2008, while simultaneously supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The movement stated it was, “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”
Obama wholeheartedly embraced this view, adding in his own two cents against lobbyists and special interest groups. Now that same President who vilified many on Wall Street is gladly accepting $400,000 checks from them.
Even fellow Democrats have turned on Obama, saying his paid speeches are “distasteful,” reports CNN. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders condemned the cash grab: “Look, Barack Obama is a friend of mine, and I think he and his family represented us for eight years with dignity and intelligence. But I think at a time when we have so much income and wealth inequality… I think it just does not look good.”
It’s ironic that any business would have an interest in Obama’s financial opinions considering he’s the first president since the Great Depression to have created less than 3 percent GDP growth, according to CNS News.
Admittedly there’s nothing wrong with former presidents looking to make an income by giving speeches. Everyone would like to have a lucrative side hustle, after all. The issue here is that the inherent hypocrisy of the man who vilified Wall Street to get elected who would later cash out once his political career was over.
It also raises the concern of what back alley dealings he had going and how much crony capitalism he engaged in during his time as president, and what new issues his financial dealings and advice may cause.