In Washington, money flows like a river. It rushes everywhere, sweeping along as much as it can and threatening to drown anything – or anyone – that gets in its way.
Money for campaigns and PACs. Money to hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. Money for PR firms and trade associations. Money for think tanks to give the cover of respectability for genuinely ugly ideas.
And there’s another pot of money – the money that keeps the revolving door spinning. It’s about big bonuses that Wall Street banks pay their executives to spend a little time running our government and about the big payoffs that these banks offer when people leave government and head to Wall Street.
Sure, laws matter. But it also matters who interprets those laws. Who enforces those laws. Who monitors what’s going on and exercises judgment – judgment to indict a bunch of bankers who break the law or to cut a more civilized deal that lets the bank pay a fine and all the executives take home bonuses?
It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Personnel is policy.
Wall Street insiders have enough influence in Washington already without locking up one powerful job after another in the Executive Branch of our government. Sure, private sector experience can be valuable – no one ever said otherwise – but there is a point at which the revolving door compromises public interest. And we are way beyond that point.
And this is why I’m writing to you. We have a presidential election coming up. I think anyone running for that job – anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government – should say loud and clear that they agree: we don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people.
No one is disqualified just because they have Wall Street experience, but public service is about more than serving one industry. Anyone who wants to be President should appoint people to key economic positions who have already demonstrated that they can hold giant banks accountable, who have already demonstrated that they embrace the kind of ambitious economic policies that we need to rebuild opportunity and a strong middle class in this country.
I need your help, Lauren – the country needs your help. The only way that candidates for President – or for any office – will slow down the revolving door and say “enough is enough” is if YOU demand that they say it.
We’re running out of time. The middle class in this country has been hacked at, squeezed, and hammered until it’s nearly at the breaking point. We can’t afford to nibble around the edges any more.
We need leadership that is willing to fight for this country, leadership that is willing to make working people a first priority, leadership that recognizes the importance of major, structural change – on everything from Wall Street regulation to tax policy to education to trade. We need leaders to show they understand the urgency of the moment, leaders to show some backbone and ambition.