I was at the White House the other day and I saw they had installed a REVOLVING DOOR.
I was surprised because I had thought President Obama had planned, as part of the Hope & Change Initiative, to eliminate revolving doors and install Steel Doors that opened only one way, so that you’d have to exit through a different door to get out of the White House.
But it turns out there is a revolving door and it leads directly from the West Wing to Citigroup offices in New York.
The news earlier this year that Jack Lew, having just struck a nice payday from his two years at Citigroup, had been nominated to head OMB was bad enough. Included in Lew’s take from the bank was a $1 million bonus he received just as he left to join the State Department in January 2009, at the very moment taxpayers were bailing the place out with TARP funds.
One of Lew’s jobs at the bank was to head up a Citigroup hedge fund unit that profited from the financial crisis by investing in a firm that BET ON THE MARKET TO COLLAPSE.
Now we get word that the recently departed OMB chief, Peter Orszag, will presumably be making a gazillion dollars or more at the very same Citigroup Lew just left.
Really, could Orszag have found nowhere else to work than a company that took some $45 billion in federal TARP funds as well as a got-your-back megabillion guarantee from the government?
The TARP money was initially delivered in October and November of 2008, before Obama assumed office. But Orszag was CBO director at the time and known in November 2008 to be headed into the administration, and presumably deeply involved in economic discussions with the outgoing Bush administration.
He was a key player on the Obama economic team while the TARP was being administered during the year Citigroup held the funds. The federal government continues to own an 11 percent stake in the bank.
WHEN OBAMA SAID “CHANGE,” DID HE MEAN THE CHANGE JINGLING IN HIS AIDES’ POCKETS?
There’s no evidence that I know of that Orszag did any favors for Citigroup while in government. But we don’t know everything, and certainly this looks tawdry.
Peter, I know you’ve been laboring as a relative pauper in high level government jobs and at think tanks for much of your adult life, and that you weren’t going to set up a hot dog stand at this point, but Wall Street is not where someone who was just running the economy should be cashing in right now.
And, Mr. Obama, tear down this revolving door!