Fact-Checking Obama's Fundraising-Letter Claims About Wall Street "Special Interests"


At least Ellen is impressed

The president, hot on the heels of yet another legislative victory, is using it to fundraise:

From: Barack Obama info@barackobama.com
Date: May 22, 2010 1:42:33 PM EDT

Subject: They backed down
Reply-To: info@barackobama.com


On Thursday, the Senate passed historic Wall Street reform. This movement proved again that the strongest special interests, who for so long have called the shots in Washington, can be beat. […]

Now, the House and Senate must iron out their differences before I can sign it into law. But the financial industry will not give up. They have already spent more than $1 million per member of Congress, lobbying on this issue. And in the coming days, they will go all in. This is their last shot to stall, weaken, or kill reform, and they are not accustomed to losing.

But this movement has you—and together, we have beaten the special interests before.

Please donate $5 or more today to help Organizing for America continue to mobilize thousands—to counter the special interests' attacks and get strong Wall Street reform to my desk.

Wait, $1 million per Congress member "lobbying on this issue"? Thankfully, we have OpenSecrets.org to measure this stuff. What do we see?

That in the entire category of "Finance/Insurance/Real Estate," the total amount of all lobbying dollars in 2009-10 has been around $592 million. Not "on this issue," but on each and every issue that anybody in this broad category saw fit to lobby on. For instance, something that has squat-all to do with financial regulation: health care reform.

Of the nine main subcategories in OpenSecret's Finance/Industry/Real Estate grouping, far and away the biggest spender on lobbying during 2009-10 was "insurance," with $208 million. The biggest individual spenders on insurance-industry lobbying during that period was Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($18 million). Not only were these special interests not fighting the president's noble financial industry reforms, they were not fighting his health reforms either–as Timothy Carney and Peter Suderman detailed constantly through the legislative process, health care special interests by a wide margin backed Obama and his plan.

What about campaign contributions? According to OpenSecrets, the Finance/Industry/Real Estate category is A) "far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties," and B) split pretty even by major political party, with Democrats receiving slightly more in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles (that spread is even bigger for the subcategory of "Securities & Investment"). The top four recipients this season have been Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-$3.9 million), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-$1.8 million), Gov. Charlie Crist (I-$1.6 million) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-$1.5 million).

So to sum up: In order to push financial reform through the finish line, the president wants you to give him $5+ to counter special interest money that he pocketed to pass health care reform. Luckily for him, there's one born every minute.

NEXT: Bruce Bartlett Explains How Libertarianism Created Jim Crow

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  1. probably a typo

  2. The Obama administration lying through its lying teeth to make cheap political points?


    1. I know. I’m amazed.

      Seriously, at this point, I’m starting to believe he really was born in Kenya, simply because it’s different than what he claims.

      1. I have never actually heard him say that he was born in the USA.

        Disclaimer: I am not a birther.

  3. Click through to read the whole letter — it’s incredible.

    One of my favorite bits is:

    “If you have ever been treated unfairly by a credit card company, this reform works for you?never again will Americans be duped by fine print or hidden fees.”

    Seriously? Financial reform is going to cause all Americans to understand the fine print and fee structure on their credit cards? How is that going to work?

    1. It will be in crayon and monosyllabic words.

      1. Some will still get it wrong.

      2. Some will still get it wrong.

        1. right;-)

    2. By making everything be in large print. This makes offers much heavier and lucrative for the US Post Office. When companies try and save money by not mailing them out to people unlikely to qualify, they are sued for racial discrimination, despite 80% of the dropped population being white. And then a decade later, when they are back in power, the Democrats will fine credit card companies for wasting so much paper.

    3. I have to say, having had credit cards for about the past 25 years, I’ve never been duped once by fine print or hidden fees. When I’m presented with terms that I don’t agree with, such as changing my fixed rate card to a variable rate card, I dump their card.

      True story, Capitol One did this to me about 2 years ago. I had a 9.9% fixed Visa card with them for about 8 years or so. They sent me a letter telling me they were changing the card from fixed to variable and increasing the rate to 16%. Buh-bye.

      I shopped around and soon found a variable rate MC, going at about 7% at the time, and has since dropped to < 3% APR. The bank issuing the card? Capitol One.

      1. All those vikings cost money!

        1. Is that a Capitol One card in your wallet, or are you just happy to see me?

      2. I haven’t paid interest on a credit card in 6 years. Every year I get one that is 0% for 12-18 months. Once that period is up, I simply open another new one. Didn’t think I’d get one these days but sure enough, Citi MC, 0% for 12 months on all purchases. I once had a Chase card where the 0% was about to expire, had another 12 month 0% offer from Chase. I called them and said just keep my current one at 0%. No can do, had to close the old and get a new.

        1. What is the effect on your credit score?

          1. Closing an account doesn’t really do much to your credit score. You shouldn’t be at the point where it affects you, anyway. The only thing that does matter to some real degree is the age of your oldest active account.

            Luckily, for many college students their oldest account is something like a Discover Card, and nobody says you have to actually *use* your oldest account.

  4. If there’s one sucker born every minute, in the the last 250 years, nature has generated about a hundred and thirty-one million suckers, total.

    131.3 million people voted in the last Presidential election.

    That doesn’t mean anything, but it seems like it does, doesn’t it?

    1. If people generally lived to the age of 250 (well, 268), that might mean something…

    2. *gurgle gurgle*

  5. The large print giveth, the small print taketh away.

    1. That could almost qualify for a Iron Law.

  6. Surely our tolerance for this bullshit is reaching an end. November may be a bloodbath of Old Testament proportions. I’m not sure that’s what I want (the GOP being totally entrenched may be bad come 2012–a strong but not unbreakable majority seems best), but the Democrats sure seem like that’s what they want.

  7. I had pretty low expectations for Obama when he took office. Yet, I am still stunned on regular basis just how shallow, dishonest, and manipulative the fucker is.

    1. Oh, that pool can get even more shallow, my friend.


      Deval Patrick/Tom Kaine ’18!

  8. But the financial industry will not give up. They have already spent more than $1 million per member of Congress, lobbying on this issue.

    Just for fun, let’s assume this is true. Why would they do this? Could it be they see this as an “investment” which will be handsomely repaid?

    If the people who run the government had not contrived to gain influence and control over virtually every single aspect of our lives, there would be no incentive to incessantly lobby Congress and the Chief Executive.

  9. Please donate $5 or more today to help Organizing for America continue to mobilize thousands?to counter the special interests’ attacks and get strong Wall Street reform to my desk.

    “Organizing for America” you say- who could that be? Has ACORN changed their name? Could SEIU be involved?

    1. Did any previous president ever sign fund-raising letters for political advocacy/action groups? Maybe for the American Cancer Society or something, but this???

      1. “Organizing for America” is what the 2008 Obama election organization became after the inaguration and will almost certainly transform into the 2012 re-election campaign committee when the appropriate FEC deadlines approach. Marketing ploy for sure, but legit.

  10. It doesn’t bother me that Obama lies about everything. All politicians lie, although Obama seems to be epically good at it even for the political class. What bother’s me is that we have an entire legacy media who will never call him on any of it. Right now the US effectively has a state run media.

    1. Only because the media is largely populated with adherents of one of the major sects of the state religion.

    2. “Right now the US effectively has a state run media.”

      If that’s true, they’re doing a piss poor job because neither the President nor his policies appear to be wildly popular.

      Hysteria ill becomes you.

  11. The large print giveth, the small print taketh away.

    That could almost qualify for a Iron Law.

    Please. We have standards, you know.

  12. All you anti-Obama posters are guilty of sedition.

    1. That napkin is on to something.

  13. Do brokerages’ proprietary trading floors trade against their firms’ own customers? Or worse? Readers might be interested in “My Life Versus Mrs. Blankfein’s Diamond Earrings” http://wp.me/pVYiX-7

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