Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain Stared Greed in the Face, and Asked for Their Help on Economic Crisis

Jonathan Weisman’s article, “McCain's Barbarians at the Gate” in the Washington Post, should scare the living daylights out of anyone fearing a John McCain presidency. In fact, I can’t even believe any candidate would do what McCain just did, if they were seriously trying to garner the confidence of the American people.

For a presidential candidate running against Wall Street greed, Sen. John McCain's selection of titans of finance to discuss the ailing economy with this morning did little to underline his message. Gathered around McCain's U-shaped table was Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of the private equity giant, Blackstone Group. Schwarzman has recently become the poster child in a Washington debate over what many consider to be the mother of all tax dodges, "carried interest." He received a $350.2 million in cash distributions last year. On much of that income, Schwarzman's tax rate was a secretary-level 15 percent, not the 35 percent income tax rate that regular rich folks pay. That is because private equity traders like Schwarzman structure their fees as capital gains and are taxed accordingly. He even sold a stake of his company to an entity controlled by the Chinese government -- not a crowd pleaser on the campaign trail. But it is his lifestyle that has long raised eyebrows. His personal chef "often spends $3,000 for a weekend of food for Mr. Schwarzman and his wife, including stone crabs that cost $400, or $40 per claw," the Journal reported.

Remember, this is McCain bucking Wall Street and greed. Let’s continue with McCain’s "reform" discussion group.

Henry Kravis, the takeover artist made famous in "Barbarians At The Gate," Kravis helped engineer the leveraged buyout of R.J.R. Nabisco in 1988 with what was then a staggering sum of mostly borrowed money, $31.4 billion. After a few years, the deal unraveled and the company was dismantled.

John Thain, who took control of Merrill Lynch as it stumbled into the subprime crisis -- and then steered it into the maw of Bank of America during investment banking's darkest week. Thain, who as chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch was actually at the helm of one of the venerable institutions felled by the crisis McCain is trying to help address.

It’s almost surreal isn’t it? If Barack Obama had met with these thugs, it would be all but over. I’m still not sure this story isn’t some wishful hallucination or an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. ...! This is getting to be all so Dickensian.

1 comment:

  1. Seems to me McKeating fits right in with this crowd.