“Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isnâ€™t buying that. My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
– Obama cautioning bank executives on justifying high salaries in a recent private meeting
I think it’s pretty clear that the bank executives simply don’t get how angry folks are. And that’s understandable. Because for the past 30 years they’ve been accustomed to getting whatever they want. So it makes sense that they feel entitled to do whatever they like. That’ll obviously change, but it’s hard to teach these old dogs anything new.
But to that point of training these folks for the hard road that lies ahead, I like this description of the meeting…
There were signs from the outset that this was a business event, not a social gathering. At each place around the table sat a single glass of water. No ice. For those who finished their glass, no refills were offered. There was no group photograph taken of the CEOs with the president, which typically happens at ceremonial White House gatherings but not at serious strategy sessions.
â€œThe only way they could have sent a more Spartan message is if they had served bread along with the water,â€ says a person who attended the meeting. â€œThe signal from Obamaâ€™s body language and demeanor was, â€˜Iâ€™m the president, and youâ€™re not.â€™â€
According to the accounts of sources inside the room, President Obama told the CEOs exactly what he expects from them, and pushed back forcefully when they attempted to defend Wall Streetâ€™s legendarily high-paying ways.
How these bankers think they can take trillions from the federal government and not be treated as if they seriously screwed up is beyond me, but hey…we’ll see how the adjust.