Elizabeth Warren Is “Troubled” by Obama’s Wall Street Gig
Elizabeth Warren joined critics of Barack Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street gig today, saying she’s “troubled” by the former president’s decision to accept it.
She made the remarks during an interview on the Sirius XM program Alter Family Politics.
It wasn’t the exactly the fiery language we’ve come to expect from Warren—architect of the Dodd-Frank regulations, archenemy of bankers, progressive attack dog. And she hasn’t yet used her influential Twitter handle to blast Obama, the way she has President Trump today on his tax reform plan. Still, that she said anything was evidence that backlash at the speaking gig is not limited to the political fringe.
Obama set off the first major controversy of his post-presidency when word leaked out this week that the investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP is paying him the (hefty even by Wall Street standards) $400,000 sum to give a speech this fall. It provoked criticism from the left, including supporters who cheered his administration’s new Wall Street regulations in response to the economic downturn at the start of his presidency.
The corrupting influence of money in politics, and Wall Street speaking fees in particular, was also a central campaign issue in the Democratic primary, as progressives hammered Hillary Clinton for being lavished with paychecks from such firms, and candidate Bernie Sanders urged his opponent to release transcripts of those talks.
Speaking in general terms about monied interests in the radio interview, Warren said, “I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington.” She added, “The influence of dollars on this place is what scares me. I think it ultimately threatens democracy.”
Josh Earnest, Obama’s former press secretary, defended his decision to accept the money during an appearance on MSNBC, saying that despite Wall Street poured funds into Obama’s campaign coffers in 2008, it “didn’t in any way limit his ability to put in place the toughest reforms of Wall Street that we had seen in multiple generations.”