‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden Courts Wall Street Oligarch, BlackRock’s Larry Fink
Ever since Donald Trump secured the presidency in 2016, there have been those who have argued that Joe Biden is the Democrats’ only chance at victory in 2020. Why? He plays well with working- and middle-class voters who might otherwise vote for Trump. While many question the merits of this assessment, it appears that at least one important figure has embraced this interpretation: “Middle Class Joe” Biden (his nickname, he assures us).
It is, therefore, puzzling that Biden is seemingly already betraying his supposed working-class base by cozying up to financial industry titans like Blackrock CEO Larry Fink. In January, The Atlantic reported, Biden went to see Fink, who told the ex-vice president “I’m here to help,” which Biden took as a sign that Fink wanted a role in his campaign assuming he runs.
Ingratiating oneself to Wall Street executives hardly seems a winning strategy, no matter your base or “lane.” A 2017 poll, for example, found that 72 percent of Americans believe that Wall Street has too much influence in Washington.
BlackRock undoubtedly exerts enormous influence in Washington. Like other corporate giants, BlackRock uses its deep well of resources to buy influence. Since 2004, BlackRock has spent just shy of $22 million on direct lobbying. This level of spending puts it on par with peers in the financial services industry. Additionally, in every election cycle since 2010, the firm has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign committees and super PACs. This is also consistent with peers’ behavior.
It is BlackRock’s use of the revolving door to exert influence, however, that really sets it apart. According to the Campaign for Accountability’s BlackRock Transparency Project, there are 99 people who have moved from BlackRock into government positions and vice versa, including six former BlackRock employees who work at the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2016, journalist David Dayen catalogued the “veritable shadow government full of former Treasury Department officials” Fink had assembled within his financial empire.