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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Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.
In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."
Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.
Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."
Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."