Last week, the CEO of Goldman Sachs emerged from a White House meeting with President Obama with a message to Congress: Don’t play around with the debt ceiling.
“You can re-litigate these policy issues in a political forum, but we shouldn’t use threats of causing the U.S. to fail on its obligations to repay its debt as a cudgel,” Lloyd Blankfein said.
Yet executives and others at Goldman Sachs and similar big financial firms have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to some of the very politicians who helped set the stage for the current showdown — and concerns over the debt ceiling.
For instance, Goldman Sachs was the fourth-largest donor to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations from individuals associated with the firm — where’s Cruz’s wife works — and the company PAC totaled almost $66,000.
Perhaps more than any other lawmaker, Cruz has insisted that a bill to keep the government funded be tied to measures that would weaken the Affordable Care Act, setting the stage for last week’s government shutdown. As lawmakers fight over how to pass a short-term measure to fund government agencies, the debate threatens to engulf discussions over whether to increase the debt ceiling.
Overall, people affiliated with Goldman Sachs donated roughly equal amounts to Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But the financial sector generally favors the GOP. Contributions in the current cycle total $64.4 million, 56 percent of which has gone to Republicans.
Moreover, there are several conservative Republicans who supported the strategy that led to the shutdown who count major business interests among their top donors.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has received $51,000 from the American Bankers Association’s PAC since 2010, making the group his second-largest donor. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., counted the PAC as his fourth-largest donor, at $22,000.
Association President Frank Keating, who is also a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force, penned an editorial last month in The Washington Post warning of grave consequences should the nation default on its debt. “Using the debt ceiling as leverage in the deficit debate is unwise and dangerous,” he wrote. “Citizens nationwide are frustrated with the political stalemate in Washington. But our nation’s financial integrity should not be used as a bargaining chip.”
Yet last week, Huelskamp told The Washington Times he would vote against raising the debt ceiling without a long-term fiscal plan that includes Obamacare restrictions.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."