POLITICS

Obama’s banker-fundraiser now an export-subsidy rainmaker

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

President Obama has certainly not “stopped” the revolving door or frozen out corporate lobbyists. This excellent piece of reporting by Noam Scheiber in the New Republic drives that point home.

Perhaps my favorite detail is how Obama fundraiser/golf buddy/banker seems to be helping clients get subsidies from the Export-Import Bank, whose subsidy activity Obama is expanding:

Take Robert Wolf, a former U.S. chairman of the investment bank UBS and an early Obama fund-raiser, who has served as an all-purpose (and highly visible) “first buddy” throughout the presidency. Last year, Wolf dreamed up the idea for a firm called 32 Advisors, which would instruct clients here and abroad on a variety of business transactions, such as how to secure U.S. government financing for export deals.

The firm opened its doors in February after signing up several prominent Obama alumni, including former White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who will provide “economic intelligence” as a “strategic partner,” and Kevin Varney, the former chief of staff of the government’s export-import bank (the very same agency clients will hit up for loans).

According to Wolf, the president is aware of this new venture and has pronounced himself supportive. “I had the ability to speak with him numerous times about what I’m doing,” Wolf says. “He saw my excitement, he was excited.”

When you increase the government’s role in industry, you increase industry’s interest in government, and you increase the value of the politically connected. Voila! Everyone on the inside wins!

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