Obama, who is pushing stiff financial regulations, worked his way up to addressing the tension in the room, but he eventually criticized Wall Street in its own backyard and challenged the financial industry workers who paid $30,400-a-couple to attend the event to support his efforts.
“While I’m in New York, I want to stress something about this financial reform effort,” Obama said, pointing out that he believes the industry is “essential to a healthy economy”
“But we also know we should never again have to face potential calamity because of reckless speculation and deceptive practices and short sightedness and self-interestedness from a few.
“So if there are members of the financial industry in the audience today,” Obama said, eliciting chuckles and oohs from the well-heeled crowd, “I would ask that you join us in passing what are necessary reforms. Don’t fight them.”
Obama cast the reforms he’s proposing as ones that will benefit, not harm, the financial industry.
“This is important for our country and in the long run it will be good for the financial industry to have a level playing field in which everybody knows the rules and everybody knows the rules will be enforced,” he said.
The opportunity for serious reform may have already passed. Wall Street — or at least Goldmann-Sachs — is raking in the profits and the bonuses are being passed around like cake at a child’s birthday party. With the current structure, crime does pay, and it pays very, very well.