## Hoisted from Comments: Robert Waldmann on Barack Obama's "Throat Clearing"

"Obama presents the arguments against his conclusion first, then works to the conclusion. He did that on every known issue in "The Audacity of Hope." By now, he should know that he shouldn't do that--that political reporters are perfectly willing to quote his general throat clearing and ignore his specific statement and that they are even willing to quote only his hedges and qualifications and not mention his policy proposal..."

Robert:

Robert Waldmann said...: I think it is important to read the whole Obama quote and not some bits removed from context and pasted together (no doubt honestly). I quote Sargent's quote http://tinyurl.com/yzf7gxx

QUESTION: Let’s talk bonuses for a minute: Lloyd Blankfein, $9 million; Jamie Dimon,$17 million. Now, granted, those were in stock and less than what some had expected. But are those numbers okay?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, I know both those guys. They’re very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That’s part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we’ve seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance. I think that shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs.

QUESTION: Seventeen million dollars is a lot for Main Street to stomach.

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, \$17 million is an extraordinary amount of money. Of course, there are some baseball players who are making more than that who don’t get to the World Series either. So I’m shocked by that as well. I guess the main principle we want to promote is a simple principle of “say on pay,” that shareholders have a chance to actually scrutinize what CEOs are getting paid. And I think that serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay. The other thing we do think is the more that pay comes in the form of stock that requires proven performance over a certain period of time as opposed to quarterly earnings is a fairer way of measuring CEOs’ success and ultimately will make the performance of American businesses better."

I trust everyone has read both questions and answers in full. The rest of this comment can be skipped, but it is best not to discuss what Obama said without reading the text.

The statement about not begrudging people who are rich is abstract and made before Obama addressed the specific issue of the two bankers. I'm pretty sure Obama is wrong about the American people who might not begrudge the richness of many of the rich but who sure do want to tax the rich more. Also in the specific case, most Americans clearly do begrudge the fact that top bankers still have jobs let alone 7 or 8 figure bonuses.

Note that when he gets around to the question of what is to be done, he agrees with Brad's proposal and adds a demand that shareholders get more control.

What we have here is that Obama presents the arguments against his conclusion first, then works to the conclusion. He did that on every known issue in "The Audacity of Hope."

By now, he should know that he shouldn't do that -that political reporters are perfectly willing to quote his general throat clearing and ignore his specific statement and that they are even willing to quote only his hedges and qualifications and not mention his policy proposal.

Also, Gore did not claim that he invented the internet.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?