While it’s hardly a new story, the Wall Street Journal has a piece today showing a fairly dramatic move of campaign contributions away from Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. In 2008, Wall Street gave heavily to Obama and the Democrats. It wasn’t surprising – the Democratic Party was ascendant, Obama was an easy pick to win the White House, and Wall Street wanted to be on the right side of political momentum. 2010 saw a huge swing back to the Republicans, as their path to controlling the House was obvious. The real question now is whether Wall Street will swing its money back towards Obama, who doesn’t face a serious Republican challenger yet, or if they’ll hedge their bets andsplit the difference.
What’s worrisome about this story is that it’s old news, but is timed around a major debate on the debt ceiling, the budget deficit, and the fiscal outlook of the US government. It’s laced with the implication that Obama needs to be nice to Wall Street for political reasons, regardless of the actual dynamics of bankers front-running to grease political friendships. With the mantra of “Obama has to be nice to business” being repeated by elites in Washington for two-plus years already, I have to see this story as simply something which adds fuel to that fire.
The reality is that Wall Street financiers will give money to the people they think will win a given election. Contributions are, for the most part, not about actual ideological agreement. It’s about staying on the winning team. Hopefully Democrats don’t take this WSJ piece at face value and start seeking out new and innovative ways to coddle Wall Street donors.