Moral Outrage
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Citigroup Replaces JPMorgan as White House Chief of Staff

We’ve already made our choice for the best headline of the year, so far: “Citigroup Replaces JPMorgan as White House Chief of Staff.”

There’s simply too much truth in that headline; it says a lot about how Wall Street and Washington have colluded to create the winner-take-all economy that rewards the very few at the expense of everyone else.

The story behind it is that Jack Lew is President Obama’s new chief of staff — arguably the most powerful office in the White House that isn’t shaped like an oval. He used to work for the giant banking conglomerate Citigroup.

His predecessor as chief of staff is Bill Daley, who used to work at the giant banking conglomerate JPMorgan Chase, where he was maestro of the bank’s global lobbying and chief liaison to the White House.

Daley replaced Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who once worked as a rainmaker for the investment bank now known as Wasserstein and Company, where in less than three years he was paid a reported eighteen and a half million dollars.

The new guy, Jack Lew – said by those who know to be a skilled and principled public servant – ran hedge funds and private equity at Citigroup, which means he’s a member of the Wall Street gang, too. His last job was as head of President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget, where he replaced Peter Orzag, who now works as vice chairman for global banking at – hold on to your deposit slip — Citigroup.

All this brings back memories of Hank Paulson, doesn’t it? Hank Paulson, the $700 million man who became secretary of the treasury for President Bush. Paulson had been head of Goldman Sachs, the rich investment bank. As his successor at Goldman Sachs, Paulson chose Lloyd Blankfein. Several times, according to Bloomberg News, Rolling Stone, and Paulson’s own memoir, the treasury secretary made sure Blankfein and Goldman got privileged inside information.

President Obama may call bankers “fat cats” and stir the rabble against them with populist rhetoric when it serves his interest, but after the fiscal fiasco, he allowed the culprits to escape virtually scot-free.

And get this. It turns out, according to The New York Times, that as President Obama’s inner circle has been shrinking, his “rare new best friend” is Robert Wolf. They play basketball, golf, and talk economics when Wolf is not raising money for the president’s campaign.

Robert Wolf runs the U.S. branch of the giant Swiss bank UBS, which participated in schemes to help rich Americans evade their taxes.

And so it goes, the revolving door between government service and big money in the private sector spinning so fast it becomes an irresistible force hurling politics and high finance together so completely it’s impossible to tell one from the other.

[Excerpts of article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Public Affairs Television, Inc.]

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