But we beg to differ. As researchers who have been tracking the long-term rise and recent impact of the Koch network, we see a very different picture. During the election campaign, Trump relied upon well-established conservative organizational networks that could reach into many states and communities. He made overt deals with the National Rifle Association and the Christian right, and he benefitted indirectly from Koch network operations centered in a nation-spanning, political party-like federation called Americans for Prosperity. Even more important, after his campaign squeaked through on November 8, an unprepared President-Elect Trump started to fall back on people and plans offered by the Koch network, which aims to dismantle not only Barack Obama’s accomplishments but much of what the federal government has done for 75 years to promote security and opportunity for ordinary Americans.
In his final speech as vice president, Joe Biden warned that the top 1 percent needed to pay their fair share, or else.
Biden delivered his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, which is attended by world leaders, top executives, investors and members of the press.
The outgoing vice president started his speech by noting that there is a “palpable sense of uncertainty about the state of the world,” and we need to ask ourselves, “What kind of world are we going to leave for our children?”
The main theme of his speech was that the “liberal international world order” is at risk of collapse, as bad actors like Russia meddle in elections and try to undermine the progressive values of the United States and Europe.
The great and the good of Davos agree they have a problem with populism. Finding a solution is the hard part.
On the second day of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss Alps, delegates disagreed on how best to address the upending of the western political order, a debate made doubly urgent by the string of elections in Europe this year where anti-establishment parties could gain more ground.
While International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged a list of policies from programs to retrain workers to more social spending, others fretted that the turbulence is only starting. Hedge Fund billionaire Ray Dalio warned on a panel chaired by Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua that “we may be at a point where globalization is ending, and provincialization and nationalization is taking hold.”
That leaves technocrats trying to patch together potentially expensive remedies to make the current system of global trade, banking and business links that the Davos club represents acceptable to the public at a time when newcomers like U.S. president elect Donald Trump threaten to dismantle it by scrapping trade deals and introducing tariffs.
Exxon Mobil under its CEO Rex Tillerson frequently pressed the U.S. State Department for help in negotiating complex business deals and overcoming foreign opposition to its drilling projects, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept.
The requests for help — documented in diplomatic cables obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from DeSmogBlog as well as some previously released by Wikileaks — raise a whole new series of conflict-of-interest concerns about Tillerson, who retired as Exxon Mobil CEO soon after being nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state.
Consider: Exxon Mobil sent State Department officials a request to help overcome local opposition to fracking in Germany; in Indonesia, the State Department acted as a advocate for Exxon Mobil during contentious negotiations between the firm and the Indonesian government over a major gas field in the South China Sea; and in Russia, Exxon Mobil asked the U.S. ambassador to press the Russians to approve a major drilling program, noting that a “warming of U.S.-Russian relations” overall would also help the company.
Under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, the State Department started its own in-house energy promotion department, the Bureau of Energy Resources. The team works on a variety of energy projects, but its most high-profile programs have been focused on spurring the worldwide spread of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technology, with the hope that doing so would blunt the influence of certain foreign powers. The Bureau’s Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program (formerly the Global Shale Gas Initiative) has in the past engaged with Exxon Mobil for projects in Poland and eastern Europe.
Exxon’s Climate Change Denial and Human Rights Record Make Rex Tillerson Unfit to be U.S. Secretary of State
In the first interview, Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman speak to oil and energy journalist Antonia Juhasz about the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Juhasz’s recently wrote an article titled ‘Rex Tillerson Could Be America’s Most Dangerous Secretary of State‘. In the second interview, Sharmini Peries speaks to CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. In the third interview, Kim Brown speaks to Jamie Henn and Antonia Juhasz about whether Tillerson would conduct U.S. foreign policy in the interest of the oil and natural gas industry. And in the fourth interview, Kim Brown speaks to Kathy Mulvey of the Union of Concerned Scientists about Exxon continuing to avoid accountability for its climate change disinformation campaign. Mulvey worked on The Climate Accountability Scorecard. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)
I’m an American, full of pride for President-elect Donald Trump and his big, big, 10% stock market rally since the election!
Now imagine my pride if that had actually happened. Or if the 5% gain in the S&P 500 that has happened, or even the 8% climb in the narrower Dow Jones Industrial Average — which has failed for the 15th day to gain the last 250 points needed to cross 20,000 — were based on fundamentals.
Instead, this recent is rooted mostly in corruption now, and the promise of corruption later. And a rally built on corruption is bound to fail. Here’s why:
Financial stocks are responsible for much of the U.S. market’s recent move, and the rally in financials is rooted in hopes for government deregulation of the industry.
[…] It’s easy to see why SoftBank and Sprint might want to help Mr. Trump take credit for creating jobs. SoftBank’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, wants the Department of Justice’s antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission to allow a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. In 2014 regulators appointed by President Obama made clear to Mr. Son that they would not approve such a transaction because it would cut the number of national wireless companies to three, from four, greatly reducing competition in a concentrated industry. Mr. Son sees a new opening for his deal in Mr. Trump, who has surrounded himself with people who have sided with large telecommunications companies in regulatory debates and have argued against tough antitrust enforcement.
This is crony capitalism, with potentially devastating consequences. If Mr. Trump appoints people to the antitrust division and the F.C.C. who are willing to wave through a Sprint/T-Mobile merger, he will do lasting damage to the economy that far outweighs any benefit from 5,000 jobs, jobs that might have been created even without the merger. Individuals and businesses will find wireless service costs a lot more when they have only Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint to choose from.
Four British companies are alleged to have played a key part in a multimillion pound bribery scandal involving a leading Italian politician.
Luca Volontè, a former member of the Union of the Centre party in Italy, has been accused of helping quash a human rights report criticising Azerbaijan, one of the world’s most authoritarian countries. The Observer has also established that one of the UK companies was allegedly linked to a scandal involving Russian organised crime.
Volontè, who is also president of the European People’s party in the Council of Europe, is being investigated by the Milan public prosecutor’s office for allegedly accepting €2.39m in bribes.
It is claimed that Volontè received the money in exchange for persuading the People’s party to vote against a 2013 report by the council, Europe’s leading human rights organisation, that highlighted the plight of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. He denies any wrongdoing.
The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spent years in his previous role as Luxembourg’s prime minister secretly blocking EU efforts to tackle tax avoidance by multinational corporations, leaked documents reveal.
Years’ worth of confidential German diplomatic cables provide a candid account of Luxembourg’s obstructive manoeuvres inside one of Brussels’ most secretive committees.
The code of conduct group on business taxation was set up almost 19 years ago to prevent member states from being played off against one another by increasingly powerful multinational businesses, eager to shift profits across borders and avoid tax.
Little has been known until now about the workings of the committee, which has been meeting since 1998, after member states agreed a code of conduct on tax policies and pledged not to engage in “harmful competition” with one another.
However, the leaked cables reveal how a small handful of countries have used their seats on the committee to frustrate concerted EU action and protect their own tax regimes.
[…] In 1980, after long consultation with some of America’s most senior nutrition scientists, the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines shaped the diets of hundreds of millions of people. Doctors base their advice on them, food companies develop products to comply with them. Their influence extends beyond the US. In 1983, the UK government issued advice that closely followed the American example.
The most prominent recommendation of both governments was to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol (this was the first time that the public had been advised to eat less of something, rather than enough of everything). Consumers dutifully obeyed. We replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk or orange juice. But instead of becoming healthier, we grew fatter and sicker.
Look at a graph of postwar obesity rates and it becomes clear that something changed after 1980. In the US, the line rises very gradually until, in the early 1980s, it takes off like an aeroplane. Just 12% of Americans were obese in 1950, 15% in 1980, 35% by 2000. In the UK, the line is flat for decades until the mid-1980s, at which point it also turns towards the sky. Only 6% of Britons were obese in 1980. In the next 20 years that figure more than trebled. Today, two thirds of Britons are either obese or overweight, making this the fattest country in the EU. Type 2 diabetes, closely related to obesity, has risen in tandem in both countries.
At best, we can conclude that the official guidelines did not achieve their objective; at worst, they led to a decades-long health catastrophe. Naturally, then, a search for culprits has ensued. Scientists are conventionally apolitical figures, but these days, nutrition researchers write editorials and books that resemble liberal activist tracts, fizzing with righteous denunciations of “big sugar” and fast food. Nobody could have predicted, it is said, how the food manufacturers would respond to the injunction against fat – selling us low-fat yoghurts bulked up with sugar, and cakes infused with liver-corroding transfats.
[…] Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, 72, got his start decades ago, loading boxes onto the back of an ice cream truck in Central Europe. He has witnessed changes in agricultural production practices, the rise of and rebellion against processed foods, and the scourge of chronic illnesses left in its wake. In rising to the apex of Nestlé, he has become the chief architect of the company’s vision for the future, a reality in which food operates more like medicine.
Nestlé, of course, has been fortifying food since founder Henri Nestlé began selling an iron-enriched infant cereal called “Farine Lactée” in 1867. And the company will still make chocolates, ice cream, and most of the pizzas and meals found in supermarket freezer sections. But it is also investing billions of dollars in healthcare firms. In steering the company in this direction, Brabeck-Letmathe has forged into new territory, carving out a “nutrition, health, and wellness” industry.
This is a shift from what food companies such as Danone, PepsiCo, and Kellogg have done for decades. The biggest companies have focused mainly on one goal: getting calories to people. They created new technologies to do it, drying and freezing food, then shipping it across the trade routes of an increasingly connected global economy. But as Brabeck-Letmathe would discover around 1995, that crude vision for calories only worked to a point.
To continue carrying out Brabeck-Letmathe’s vision, Nestlé in June named Paul Bulcke, its current CEO, to replace Brabeck-Letmathe after he retires in April 2017. In taking the reins, Bulcke will inherit a role that requires firm resolve as Nestlé seeks to assert its dominance in this new industry that sits squarely between food and pharmaceuticals. The company also chose Ulf Mark Schneider to take over as CEO. Schneider was lured to Nestlé from Fresenius, a German healthcare firm.
Silicon Valley’s Power Brokers Want You to Think They’re Different, But They’re Just Average Robber Barons
[…] The press enjoys excitedly praising tech titans by comparing them to fantastical and mythical figures. Zuckerberg is Caesar. Elon Musk, a wizard. Peter Thiel, who believes that he lives in the moral universe of Lord of the Rings, is a vampire. I do not know if these men believe that they have the supernatural powers the media claims. Maybe they do. I do know that they do not mind the perception, or at least have done nothing to combat it, even among those critics who believe that they’re cartoon villains.
This might not be so bad if the phenomenon were limited to daft profiles by fawning magazine writers. But this Hegelian fan fiction is nowhere more potent than from the mouths of the Disruptors themselves. Mark Zuckerberg speaks in the voice of God. Shane Smith, by his own account, is the Stalin of Vice. Silicon Valley investor Carl Icahn was called “evil Captain Kirk” by fellow billionaire Marc Andreessen, before he was himself dubbed Dr. Evil by Rod Dreher, who has evidently not absorbed a cultural reference since 1999. When Elon Musk worries that Larry Page is hurtling toward AI without a sufficient appreciation of the risks, he calls it “summoning the demon.” Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky, a typical case, says his food delivery application for depressed millennials is “disrupting the paradigm” by showing people that “the era of the paper menu” is over. AirBnB’s mission statement laments “the mechanization and Industrial Revolution of the last century,” which “displaced” “feelings of trust and belonging”; their mission is to turn the world back into the “village” of simpler eras by encouraging longstanding residents of gentrifying areas to rent out their homes to monied travelers. Some firms are more modest: HubSpot, a marketing and sales platform, is merely on a mission to make the whole world “more inbound,” which is to say, more reliant on their blogging tips for small businesses.
Even President Obama speaks of Silicon Valley as if it were an industry for madcap geniuses alone, a land of such earth-changing potential that it’s somewhere he might find himself once he’s left the Oval Office. When he chides citizens of the Valley, he chides them like a Dr. Frankenstein warning his monster about hubris: “Sometime we get, I think, in the scientific community, the tech community, the entrepreneurial community, the sense that we just have to blow up the system or create this parallel society,” he told the Frontiers Conference last October. The president believes that sense is wrong, of course, but where did he get the idea that tech CEOs were capable of these feats in the first place?
Earlier this month, Donald Trump used a “thank-you” rally in Des Moines, Iowa, to give his supporters further insight into the “deal-making” team he intends to build in Washington. As president-elect, Trump has so far nominated a number of billionaires, three Goldman Sachs bankers and the chief executive of the world’s largest oil firm to senior positions. Responding to liberal consternation at the sheer wealth of the prospective appointees, Trump told his audience: “A newspaper [the New York Times] criticised me and said: ‘Why can’t they have people of modest means?’ Because I want people that made a fortune. Because now they are negotiating for you, OK? It’s no different than a great baseball player or a great golfer.”
Trump’s cabinet, which is not yet fully filled, is already said to be worth a combined $14bn – the richest White House top table ever assembled. His team – if all are confirmed by the Senate – will be worth 50 times the $250m combined wealth of George W Bush’s first cabinet, which the media at the time dubbed the “team of millionaires”. For Trump, those figures are simply a confirmation of competence: in Trumpian politics, the richer you are, the better you must be at cutting a deal. And “deal-making” is what the next White House will be all about.
Throughout his campaign, Trump repeatedly returned to the theme of the “terrible deals” cut by previous administrations, from the North American Free Trade Agreement trade deal to the nuclear deal with Iran.
The news that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State is astonishing on many levels. As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.
Tillerson figures prominently in “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” a book I wrote about the corporation that came out in 2012. He declined my requests to interview him for that project, but I turned up at several public appearances he made and asked him a few questions from the reporters’ gallery. I also studied his public remarks, reviewed accounts of his activities reported in State Department cables obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests or released by WikiLeaks, and conducted interviews with other ExxonMobil executives, retirees, friends, competitors, civil-society activists and business partners from Asia to Africa to the Middle East.
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Rupert Murdoch swooped in with an £11.2bn offer to take full control of the satellite broadcaster Sky, five years after he was forced to abandon a similar deal amid public revulsion over the phone-hacking scandal.
The media mogul’s 21st Century Fox film and television group said it had reached an agreement in principle to buy Sky, which would bring together the company behind Fox News with the largest pay-TV broadcaster in Britain to create the most powerful media group in the UK.
Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians said the government had to intervene and demanded an inquiry on the grounds of public interest. Fox owns the controversial rightwing Fox News network in the US, while Sky News is a politically neutral service in competition with the BBC and ITV news.
Trump And Exxon: CEO Who Could Be Secretary Of State Runs Company That Often Lobbied The State Department
If ExxonMobil’s top executive is appointed to run the State Department, he will be running an agency his company has repeatedly lobbied in recent years.
Under Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who is expected to be nominated Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the oil colossus has directly lobbied the State Department on everything from sanctions against Russia and Iran to climate policy to the Trans-Pacific partnership and other controversial trade deals. An IBT review of federal records shows Exxon has been listed as lobbying the State Department on 20 separate government disclosure forms since the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. The forms list a combined $43 million worth of total Exxon spending on lobbying, though not all of that was spent specifically lobbying the department that Tillerson would run.
Tillerson has mocked investments in renewable energy and has downplayed the effects of climate change. As secretary of state, he would be in a position that has been deeply involved in matters that affect Exxon and other oil and gas corporations. In the last few years, the State Department has forged an international drilling pact, promoted hydraulic fracking across the globe and negotiated climate and trade pacts that shape the fossil fuel economy
[…] Despite all his populist slogans, Trump was born with a golden spoon in his mouth. He understands having money because he never had to understand not having money. He understands bending the rules because he’s made money doing that. He became president doing that. He boasted about it during the election.
He gravitates to people similar to him, billionaires and up and coming millionaires. His cabinet choices are pedigreed and skilled at using the government to their profit advantage. We are supposed to believe that because they know how that game is played, that as public officials they will divert those talents on our behalf. The only fly in that ointment is that they have no reason to do so.
We have Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary nominee, whose hedge fund took over a California bank in 2009 on the cheap, got the government to back the risk of the deal and proceeded to foreclose on 36,000 homes between 2009-2015, reaping a profit for him and his group of around $1.5bn. He’s not going to regulate the industry that handed him that windfall. Then, there’s Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross who made billions taking over flailing steel and other industrial companies, pushing costs like pension payments onto the government and firing people in the process. He’s not about to advocate for unions or higher minimum wages or equal pay for women in the workplace.
“The Establishment,” Donald Trump famously said during his closing argument for the presidency, “has trillions of dollars at stake in this election.”
He described “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”
He asked the country to be “brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment.”
Now, four weeks after riding that line to victory, he formally invited the establishment into his administration.
Last Friday, Trump announced the creation of a “Strategic and Policy Forum” that will serve to advise him on domestic economic matters. The list of advisers is a who’s-who of corporate elites.
In the remote Australian outback, multinational companies are embarking on a secretive new kind of mining expedition.
Rio Tinto has long mined the Pilbara region of Western Australia for iron ore riches but now the company is seeking to extract a rather different kind of resource – its own employees, for data.
Thousands of Rio Tinto personnel live in company-run mining camps, spending not just work hours but leisure and home time in space controlled by their employer – which in this emerging era of smart infrastructure presents the opportunity to hoover up every detail of their lives.
Rio Tinto is no stranger to using technology to improve efficiency, having replaced human-operated vehicles with automated haul trucks and trains controlled out of a central operations centre in Perth.
The company is embarking on an attempt to manage its remaining human workers in the same way, and privacy advocates fear it could set a precedent that extends well beyond the mining industry.
[…] An investigation with the US-based NGO China Labor Watch reveals that toys including Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels were made by staff earning as little as 86p an hour.
Overtime can run to nearly three times the legal limit. In some factories – including one producing Happy Meal toys for McDonald’s from the new DreamWorks movie Trolls – that means some are on 12-hour shifts and have to work with hazardous chemicals.
According to China Labor Watch, the world of toys may be heaven for children, but it is a world of misery for toy factory workers.
The group’s founder and executive director, Li Qiang, said: “We can’t tolerate that children’s dreams are based on workers’ nightmares, and we must fight against the unfair oppression of workers who manufacture toys.”
Undercover investigators infiltrated four factories, and the group shared wage slips and pictures with the Observer to support their findings.
As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Now that he’s been elected and is embracing part of that very establishment, Democrats and many in the media are slamming him as a typical politician who abandoned a principle as soon as it suited him.
But when McClatchy checked in with several dozen voters in central Pennsylvania – one of the swing states that swung the White House to Trump – to see how they defined the swamp, most didn’t really care. Instead, they said it’s fine with them if he uses the expertise of a DC establishment of lobbyists, donors and special interests to to get his way – and their way.
“This is his thing. He is a successful businessman who hires people to get him . . . what he wants,” said Fred Harris, 42, who works at a gas station near Philipsburg, Pa. “If he has to use swamp people to make America great again, why not?”
Yes, Donald Trump’s politics are incoherent. But those who surround him know just what they want, and his lack of clarity enhances their power. To understand what is coming, we need to understand who they are. I know all too well, because I have spent the past 15 years fighting them.
Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.
I first encountered the machine when writing about climate change. The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.
President Donald Trump is set to give America’s richest 1% an average annual tax cut of $214,000 when he takes office, while more than eight million families with children are expected to suffer financially under his proposed tax plan.
On the eve of the election, Trump promised to “massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country, who built our country”. But independent expert analyses of Trump’s tax plan show that America’s millionaire and billionaire class will win big at the expense of struggling low- and middle-income people, who turned out in large numbers to help the real estate billionaire win the election.
Experts warn that Trump’s tax plan will exacerbate America’s already chronic income inequality and herald in a “new era of dynastic wealth”.
“The Trump tax plan is heavily, heavily, skewed to the most wealthy, who will receive huge savings,” said Lily Batchelder, a law professor and tax expert at New York University. “At the same time, millions of low-income families – particularly single-parent households – will face an increase.”
Donald Trump, the candidate, was blunt: “Hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.”
But Donald Trump, the President-elect, is going a bit easier on the hedge funders — to huzzahs from the industry.
In Trump, hedge-fund types are finally getting their day in Washington. One of their own, Steven Mnuchin, is even a contender for Treasury secretary.
It’s a remarkable turnabout for a business that, at its height, came to symbolize an era of Wall Street hyper-wealth. After a painful run of scandals and investigations, industry veterans now hope Trump will bring a softer touch to the financial industry, if not rehabilitate its reputation.
“That nonsense is ending: the anti-banking cabal and the screed of hatred for people that live on Wall Street,” Anthony Scaramucci, a well-known money manager who is on the transition team, said last week following Trump’s victory.
“It Might Not Be Good for America, But It’s Good for Us”: How the Media Got Rich off Donald Trump’s Rise
Earlier this year, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves openly bragged that the network is getting rich off Donald Trump’s run for the White House. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. … The money’s rolling in … This is going to be a very good year for us.” Moonves went on to say, “It’s a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald. Go ahead. Keep going.” We look at the media’s role in propping up Donald Trump over the past 18 months with three journalists: Lee Fang, John Nichols and Jose Antonio Vargas. (Democracy Now!)
Donald Trump’s stunning victory will force the United States to confront a series of never-before-seen entanglements over the president’s private business, debts and rocky financial history.
No laws prohibit Trump from involving himself in his private company, the Trump Organization, while serving in the highest public office.
And Trump has so far resisted the long-standing presidential tradition of giving his holdings to an independent manager, stoking worries of conflicts of interests over his businesses’ many financial and foreign ties.
Trump’s business empire of hotels, golf courses and licensing deals in the U.S. and abroad, some of which have benefited from tax breaks or government subsidies, represents an ethical minefield for a commander in chief who would oversee the U.S. budget and foreign relations, some analysts say.
As Donald Trump finishes his campaign with a promise to break the control of Washington by political insiders, his transition team is preparing to hand his administration over to a cozy clique of corporate lobbyists and Republican power brokers.
“Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you the American people,” Trump says in his closing campaign advertisement, followed by flashing images of K Street, Wall Street, and Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein.
But the Trump transition team is a who’s who of influence peddlers, including: energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company; adviser Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs; and Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger, and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort.
On Oct. 29, 2013, Hillary Clinton joined Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, for a discussion at its Builders and Innovators Summit, at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort, near Tucson. During the discussion — one of more than 50 appearances for which Clinton received $225,000 since leaving the State Department — she lamented that the public’s wariness of Wall Street had made it difficult for top people in finance to move into government. For one thing, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, they often faced demands to relinquish financial holdings. “There is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives. You know, the divestment of assets, the stripping of all kinds of positions, the sale of stocks — it just becomes very onerous and unnecessary,” she said, according to a transcript released last month by WikiLeaks.
That is not the kind of thing that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, likes to hear. Warren supports Clinton, and has been one of her most effective advocates during the current campaign, but she has also made it clear that, if Clinton is elected, she will closely monitor the people she names to key posts. On Sept. 21, in a speech at the Center for American Progress, a left-of-center think tank based in Washington, Warren said, “Personnel is policy. When we talk about personnel, we don’t mean advisers who just pay lip service to Hillary’s bold agenda, coupled with a sigh, a knowing glance, and the twiddling of thumbs until it’s time for the next swing through the revolving door — serving government, then going back to the very same industries they regulate. We don’t mean Citigroup or Morgan Stanley or BlackRock getting to choose who runs the economy in this country so that they can capture our government.”
People with experience in business or finance are a necessity in Washington, but the specter of a privileged executive elite circulating in and out of government and the private sector — especially Wall Street — has shadowed the American political system for more than half a century. The financial industry still favors the Republican Party, but, since the 1990s, it has become more closely affiliated with the Democrats, and that has provoked a resurgent left, led by Warren and by Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont.