Who Does Obama Work For?

I’ve been having a discussion over email with a friend about Barak Obama, based on my post the other day where I said he’s just like Bush (for denying that the USA has caused the terrorist problem by interfering in the government of other countries). My friend forwarded to me an email from Obama’s mailing list where he talks about troop withdrawal, suggesting he’s one of the good guys. I replied:

“Get Out Of Iraq” is an easy story to sell to the American people at the moment. There is enough support for it with enough corporations that he can get away with it. So Obama gets no points for telling that story. And while he continues to deny that America has caused most of the problems they are facing around the world at the moment, I don’t think he can actually change the underlying problems. At the end of the day, Obama works for the same people that Bush or Hillary or McCain does – the rich white guys. And to get power he has to agree to represent their interests just like anyone else. The two-party system in the US (as in Australia) is there to give us the illusion of freedom of choice. But the system is inherently biased to represent the interests of the people with wealth and power. Look at Ron Paul – most people don’t even know he exists. Why? He’s been getting a massive amount of the primary vote. It’s because the media, and his own Republican executive, have completely ignored him. Why? Because he says the things they don’t want people to hear. If you speak the truth, you get ignored. Anyone, including Obama, who is operating inside the system is bound by the same rules. Say what we want you to say. Don’t say anything you’re not allowed to say – or suffer the consequences.

Like this from Ron Paul:

Of course, while the supporters of increased regulation claim Enron as a failure of “ravenous capitalism,” the truth is Enron was a phenomenon of the mixed economy, rather than the operations of the free market. Enron provides a perfect example of the dangers of corporate subsidies. The company was (and is) one of the biggest beneficiaries of Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) subsidies. These programs make risky loans to foreign governments and businesses for projects involving American companies. While they purport to help developing nations, Ex-Im and OPIC are in truth nothing more than naked subsidies for certain politically-favored American corporations, particularly corporations like Enron that lobby hard and give huge amounts of cash to both political parties. Rather than finding ways to exploit the Enron mess to expand federal power, perhaps Congress should stop aiding corporations like Enron to pick the taxpayer’s pockets through Ex-Im and OPIC.

Now, THAT isn’t going to make him many friends in corporate America.

Then my friend asked me why I thought Obama works for the rich, white guys. Here’s why.

It’s simple. Where do you think Obama’s campaign finance is coming from? Poor black people in Louisiana? Let’s see – he’s raised $16 million to date for his campaign. Let see who this came from.

Top Contributors

1 Goldman Sachs $535,678
2 JPMorgan Chase & Co $333,337
3 UBS AG $306,880
4 Kirkland & Ellis $304,264
5 Exelon Corp $299,011
6 University of Chicago $293,481
7 Lehman Brothers $288,197
8 Skadden, Arps et al $282,841
9 Sidley Austin LLP $279,857
10 Citigroup Inc $278,336
11 Harvard University $267,541
12 University of California $251,194
13 National Amusements Inc $237,050
14 Jenner & Block $213,907
15 Jones Day $212,525
16 Morgan Stanley $212,276
17 Google Inc $201,107
18 Mayer Brown $184,333
19 Credit Suisse Group $171,800
20 Citadel Investment Gro $171,650

This is LITERALLY the list of people he works for. Follow the money, people, follow the money. These people don’t “donate” money to a campaign. They “invest” in it. They expect to get something in return for their contribution.

Let’s look at the top one, Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks. You have to ask – what would Goldman Sachs want to get for their investment? Healthcare reform? Perhaps. They also have a private equity arm. What are their significant holdings?

Major Assets (GS Group)

  • Ayco L.P. – (Financial Advisory)
  • Cogentrix Energy (Energy)
  • American Casino & Entertainment Properties (Casinos)
  • Coffeyville Resources LLC (Refinery)
  • Myers Industries, Inc. (Plastic & Rubber)
  • USI Holdings Corporation (Insurance & Finance)
  • East Coast Power LLC (Energy)
  • Zilkha Renewable Energy (Energy)
  • Queens Moat Houses (Hotels)
  • Sequoia Credit Consolidation (Finance)
  • Shineway Group (Meat Processing)
  • Equity Inns, Inc. (Hotels)
  • KarstadtQuelle property group (Retailer)
  • Nursefinders Inc. (Healthcare)
  • Latin Force Group, LLC (Media)

They have a healthcare investment. They will want to make sure it does well, so whether or not they want reform depends on what their business needs. They have an investment in renewable energy. Think they care about oil?

The Google investment is interesting. What do you think they expect to get for their money?

BTW, the above listings are from a terrific site called Open Secrets. Check it out.

9 thoughts on “Who Does Obama Work For?

  1. I should think it is obvious that Obama will be the next President, the “rich white guys” would never hire a woman to the job and if they did I would be very, very surprised. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 5 years–will the US finally destroy itself (as the USSR did), or will someone like Obama be able to turn it around? Either way, surely they can no longer deny that their military spending must stop and they must spend at least 5 years fixing their infrastructure. Either that, or their economy is going to collapse…

  2. I don’t think it makes any difference if it’s Hillary, Obama, McCain or Mickey Mouse as the next President. It’s like being the next host of a breakfast morning show. You’re just the pretty face out the front whose job is to wave and smile.

  3. The only thing about Obama as I understand it is that these donors that you mentioned aren’t his major contributors as I understand it. As I understand it (from listening to Newsgang, and I could have it totally wrong) the general public is his major donor. So I believe your argument is that he is beholden to these interests (above)as they have donated so much, but actually Joe Public is the one that he is beholden too!

    This link here suggests that there are over a million donors and other places suggested he got to at least 20 million for Feburary alone! http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/02/27/709194.aspx

    So if this is true, Obama can stick his fingers up at the oil companies and tell them what they can do with there money!

  4. That’s like saying BHP has millions of shareholders therefore they don’t have to listen to what their top institutional shareholders want. That’s not how it works. They listen to what the top shareholders want. The minor shareholders may contribute a lot of money but they don’t have a voice outside of the voting process.

  5. Thats not really a good analogy because in the BHP the example, the institutional shareholders own more then 50% of the shares. If the information that I am hearing is correct, the public are donating much more then 50% of the donations. There fore if the big guys get pissed and leave, so what, the public are paying the bills.

    Now this assumes that the only thing that the big guys you mentioned have is money! I am not sure if they have other influence that they can throw around, but your post talks about money.

    Isn’t this a classic example of the “Long tail”?


  6. As I understand it, there’s a couple of things to take notice of.

    1. The orgs I mentioned above didn’t donate the money from the company. They are “individual contributions” from employees or owners. But raised through the company. In the US you tend to get people who make it their mission to raise money for a candidate, thereby increasing their influence on the candidate. So it shows up as individual contributions, but really a lot of it comes through a smallish group of fund-raisers. For example, Obama’s national finance chairwoman is Penny Pritzker, the Hyatt heiress.

    2. So you have a group of wealthy people who mobilize their networks to raise funding for a candidate. Again, these people are looking for a payback that serves their self-interest. I’m not saying they are all corrupt or evil but they obviously have an agenda. It might be as benign as to improve the United State’s perception in the world, but wealthy people don’t become wealthy (usually) by being caring, altruistic individuals. They tend to know what they want and know how to get it. To think that a candidate has tens or hundreds of wealthy individuals raising money for him and not expecting something in return.

    Although he might have raised some funding via the net, it’s only when a candidate gets enough support from the wealth and influential that enough people have heard of him/her to know they can support him. Again, we have Ron Paul as a counter-example.

    BTW, according to another page on OpenSecret, it says Obama’s total haul to date has been $138.2 million!
    Then in another place it says $193 million, so I don’t know which figures to trust.

  7. From what I hear he is raising 25+ million a month so both figures may have been correct when written (which from your link suggests it was Feb). Also interested to note that the report says “.. largely thanks to small online donors..”. It really sounds that this is a grass roots campaign. Who knows but I believe they take these things very seriously in the US so I am not sure if it is something you can scam. I am sure they are investigating why so many donors are donating to him.

    I really think you should listen to the Newsgang (http://www.newsgang.net/audio/) if you aren’t already. I think you would like it if your interested in the US election.


  8. Cameron

    The only meaningful numbers are those reported to the Federal Electoral Commisson.

    They are available in summary form and also broken down to individual donors and candidates. You can also see how the money flows from PACs to National Committees and Campaign Committees.

    OpenSecrets claims to use the FEC numbers as their source – maybe those are static pages that are now out of date, rather than up-to-date database driven tables.

    Thanks for pointing out that the “corporate” donations are actually the aggregate of individual ones made by employees of the listed companies. In that case, I don’t see why you should be attributing the action of individuals to the interests of their employer. I’ve worked for a couple of the companies and I can tell you that management do not coordinate or pressure their employees – there’d be hell to pay if they tried that (I think it might even be illegal)

    The only time I remember people ever being subjected to pressure to donate was one day a year when many people in the finance industry donate a day’s pay to a charity for homeless kids set up and run by the industry. There is a fair bit of unstated peer pressure on that one, but no-one minds because it is such a good cause. Even then the pressure is applied only to the most highly paid, the lower level employees are explicitely told they are not expected to donate and should only do so if they can afford it.

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