Speaking at an event in Osawatomie, Kan., on Tuesday, President Obama decried the “breathtaking greed” of wealthy Wall Street executives that had “plunged our economy and the world into a crisis.” It was his most explicit effort yet to harness the alleged anxieties of the Occupy Wall Street “movement” about a perpetually aggrieved “99 percent” pitted against a phenomenally wealthy and cold-hearted “1 percent.”
If the president (himself a multi-millionaire) wants to mount a crusade against Wall Street and the “1 percent,” however, he need look no further than the current and former members of his own White House staff.
Peter Orszag — former White House budget director
Orszag left the administration in July 2010 to become vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup, where he earns an estimated $2 million to $3 million per year.
Rahm Emanuel — former White House chief of staff
Emanuel, who left the administration in October 2010 to run for mayor of Chicago, raked in more than $16 million between 1999 and 2002, when he served as managing director at investment firm Wasserstein Perella. During that same time, Emanuel served a 14-month stint on the Freddie Mac board of directors, for which he was paid more than $300,000 in total compensation, including stock. In his new book Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer reveals that Emanuel reportedly sold up to $250,000 of his Freddie Mac stock on Feb. 21, 2003, just days before it suffered a 10 percent loss amid rumors — which were subsequently confirmed — that the company was under criminal investigation for inflating earnings.
Larry Summers — former National Economic Council director
After resigning his post as Harvard president, in which he earned more than $600,000 annually in salary and benefits, Summers became a managing director at D. E. Shaw, one of the largest hedge funds in the world, with nearly $30 billion in assets. In 2008, prior to joining the administration, Summers took home more than $5 million from D. E. Shaw and an additional $2.7 million in speaking fees from companies such as JP Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch. Summers left his White House post at the end of 2010 and returned to teach at Harvard. He is also a special adviser to the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.