You Spin Me Right 'Round, Baby, Right 'Round Like a Record

The White House is on damage control after the President's disastrous comments that he doesn't "begrudge" bank CEOs' for their multi-million dollar bonuses. The WH asserts that the quote was taken out of context, but I'm not sure, exactly, how the extended transcript is meant to make us feel better:
QUESTION: Let's talk bonuses for a minute: Lloyd Blankfein, $9 million; Jamie Dimon, $17 million. Now, granted, those were in stock and less than what some had expected. But are those numbers okay?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, I know both those guys. They're very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That's part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we've seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance. I think that shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs.

QUESTION: Seventeen million dollars is a lot for Main Street to stomach.

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, $17 million is an extraordinary amount of money. Of course, there are some baseball players who are making more than that who don't get to the World Series either. So I'm shocked by that as well. I guess the main principle we want to promote is a simple principle of "say on pay," that shareholders have a chance to actually scrutinize what CEOs are getting paid. And I think that serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay.
Call me kooky, but the fact that there are baseball players making more than $17 million who don't get to the World Series doesn't actually make me feel any better about the President saying he doesn't "begrudge" his "savvy businessmen" (ahem) pals their success and wealth, because, hey, that's part of the free market system.

Free market system, my tax-paying ass, Obama.

Krugman speaks more truth here:
[F]irst, baseball players didn't trigger a global economic collapse, and second, the baseball industry isn't the beneficiary of a massive and continuing taxpayer bailout (continuing because banks would be in deep trouble even now if it weren't for the belief that they have a government backstop).

...We don't begrudge wealth in the free market system — OK, but this wasn't about free markets, this is an industry that survives only thanks to taxpayer backing.

...Just to be clear: what freaks me out about this isn't what it says about Obama's policies, it's what it says about failure to read the mood of the country. The president seems solely concerned that someone might think that he's anti-business, without — in this interview, at least — appearing to consider it necessary to say a thing about the pervasive sense of unfair Wall Street privilege. He doesn't have to bash bankers every step of the way, but to respond to a question about bonuses solely by praising free markets and comparing bankers to baseball stars is … clueless.
Indeed so. And, frankly, it strikes me as utterly devoid of empathy, too, for the millions and millions of working Americans who will never see a salary anything like a professional baseball player's or a Wall Street CEO's, and are okay with that as long as their tax dollars aren't being used to subsidize that cavernous disparity.

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