Banks, not Prez, in Driver's Seat


Now that Wells Fargo, the last of the "too big to fail banks," plans to pay back TARP and get out from under government controls, Wall Street is feeling cocky. Yesterday's meeting between president Obama and the major banks chiefs showed all too clearly who's in the driver's seat. Hint: it's not the prez.

Three of the top Wall Street CEOs - Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, John Mack of Morgan Stanley and Richard Parsons of Citigroup - failed to even step into the President's office. The bankers didn't bother to make adequate travel plans in the face of inclement weather to show up for the meeting on time. Instead, flight delays Monday morning forced them to attend the meeting via telephone.

The scene was much different in 2008, as the New York Times pointed out. With less than 24 hours notice, they managed to show up to meet with then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Of course, they knew Paulson was doling out something they wanted: government bailout money. In fact, most arrived early and walked out with between $10 billion and $25 billion of taxpayer money.