Elizabeth Warren: A Voice of Reason That is Standing on the Edge
Elizabeth Warren has long been known as the champion for the people. Her incredible voice has attacked the many topics that the Democrats feel are slowly degrading our social structure for the average American and she doesn’t hold back in her continued attempts to bring attention to and stop anything that funnels money to the top 1%.
This Democratic Senator from Massachusetts has stood up against everything from Citizens United all the way the way to gerrymandering and has continued to push forward such critical topics as Universal Healthcare and equality in an attempt to support middle and lower class families and truth in voting.
Adored by almost all Democrats, no matter where they stand, Warren has recently made some rather unusual changes in her approach and they are putting her in a tenuous position. While it has always been known that Elizabeth Warren is on the more “left” in the Democratic Party and stood with Bernie Sanders in many aspects of his agenda, she has placed herself in a position that could potentially lose the support of a vast swath of Democrats.
In April, 2017, Warren made a statement that she was ‘troubled’ regarding the amount that President Obama was paid for a speech. It was well-known that the President received $400,000 for a speech at a Health care conference put on by Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street firm. In an NPR article they indicate:
“The Massachusetts Democrat said Thursday on SiriusXM’s “Alter Family Politics” program that she is concerned about the overall influence of money in politics.
Obama spokesman Eric Schultz says in a statement that the Democratic former president accepted the invitation to speak because health care is “an issue of great importance to him.” He added that Obama implemented financial reforms even after taking money from Wall Street as a candidate in 2008.
Schultz says Obama will be true to his values and record “regardless of venue or sponsor” for his speeches.”
But it appears that Warren not only may have spoken too soon, but wasn’t aware of the background of Cantor Fitzgerald. Add to this the fact that the Obama’s had already announced that they were donating $2 million to the Chicago Jobs Program, while Warren herself is sitting on a very nice $625,000 for her book, ranks hers as the top (thus far) of all Senators in the amount received for a book.
Cantor Fitzgerald: 9/11
In a Business Insider article, they cover the incredible story of this company, who, on September 11th, lost 658 of their 960 employees. The CEO, Howard W. Lutnick, wasn’t present as he was taking his son to school, but in the group that were lost in the World Trade Center, was his brother. Add more heartbreaking information to this tale is the fact that the company had a policy of hiring relatives, so there was a high probability that multiple family members were killed in the attack.
The article goes on to say:
“Because the attacks had devastated Cantor Fitzgerald so badly, the firm was not expected to survive. Remarkably, within a week the firm managed to get its trading back online.
And Lutnick made a commitment to keep Cantor Fitzgerald going, despite the odds and the difficult choices that had to be made.
Lutnick made the controversial decision to cut off the paychecks to employees who were killed.
Instead he gave the victim’s families 25% of the firm’s profits for five years, and 10 years of health insurance.
He’s been trying to fulfill his vow to keep the firm alive for the last decade.
Cantor Fitzgerald certainly suffered a tremendous loss, but it might also be one of the greatest comeback stories on Wall Street.”
Little of this story came forward as extreme Tea Party Left Democrats lined up with the conservatives to join Warren in the attack on President Obama’s speech. There were some on social media that were trying to spread this information to stop the hemorrhaging that followed Warren’s comment, as the Cantor Fitzgerald story needed to be told. There was a reason that they wanted President Obama to speak and that they paid him.
Of course, not to be outdone, Independent from Vermont, Bernie Sanders stepped up to the plate to give his usual chastising on the topic of speech money paid. Sanders is an individual known for his lack of belief in donating to charities as he has long held that the government should pay for these types of services. In other words, he talks a lot about the poor and underprivileged, but refuses to put those words in actions with any but a small amount of personal financial contributions. The topic of paid speeches had become one of his rallying cries as he ran against Hillary Clinton for the Presidential nomination. Again, many ignored the fact that Hillary Clinton donated almost all of the money from these speeches to charity. In Sander’s eyes and those of his followers, they viewed this as a quid pro quo.
A Dangerous Game
Neither Warren nor Sanders came out with a response regarding the donation of the Obamas or anything about the Cantor Fitzgerald company itself. Instead, there may be an underlying reason why they teamed up to attack President Obama, and it may have something to do with both the 2020 election and continuing to woo the extreme Tea Party Left.
However, their ‘silence’ has become deafening, as a majority of standard Democrats continue to believe in and support President Obama. With the lack of response on the nonprofit donation, combined with Warren’s hefty book income, it is a dangerous and slippery slope that she is treading as it smacks of hypocrisy. It appears that she is fine with earning a lot of money from all kinds of sources for her book, but President Obama, whose speech amount is fairly average for all of the political individuals that have been paid throughout the years, is being chastised.
It wasn’t that long ago that Democrats lined up in support of Elizabeth Warren as she was rebuked by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for simply wanting to read a letter by Coretta King. The rallying cry of ‘still she persisted’ continues to be carried as Democrats and especially women, were insulted and outraged.
But as we know, people can be fickle, no matter which side of the party line they exist on, and Warren’s latest attack on President Obama is not sitting well within the Democratic Party.
Deliberately Ignoring the Speech Stats
Getting paid for speeches has been part of the status quo for former Presidents, politicians and even news celebrities for many years. The fact that neither Sanders nor Warren have received any payments for speeches lines up with the laws that are in place, forbidding them to do so. However, there are clear and concise statistics that exist exemplifying who gets paid and neither Hillary Clinton nor President Obama are anywhere near the top.
In a QuartzMedia article, they list the top earnings for men (and guess which prominent so-called President is at the top of the list), as well as women:
“Bill Clinton: According to the Washington Post, the former president “earned more than $16.3 million for 72 speeches” in 2012. That’s an average of around $226,000 per speech, and CNN reports he was once paid $750,000 for a speech to telecom firm Ericsson in Hong Kong.
Tim Geithner: According to the Financial Times, the former US treasury secretary was paid roughly $200,000 (paywall) for a speaking engagement at Deutsche Bank in 2014.
Ben Bernanke: The former Fed chairman left his government job and started charging his annual government salary to appear at single events. As of May 2014 he charged “fees that range from $200,000 in the United States and $400,000 for engagements in Asia,” according to the New York Times.
Larry Summers: The former treasury secretary charged Yale only $10,000, but took $135,000 from Goldman Sachs in 2008 or 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Al Gore: Bloomberg reported in 2013 that after Gore won the Nobel prize he was asking for $175,000 in speaker fees.
Donald Trump: Trump reportedly earned $1.5 million per speech for a series of seminars in a private online learning company’s “real estate wealth expos,” Forbes reports. That was in 2006 and 2007, though. In light of recent news, his star power may be decreasing.
Reported speech earnings of prominent women
Below are some of the few women who have made it into the male-dominated ranks of highest paid speakers in the country. Even the highest sums here are notably less than similar engagements by the men above.
Condoleezza Rice: The former US secretary of state collected $150,000 from the University of Minnesota, (thankfully, that’s more than Matthew McConaughey made to speak at a university’s commencement).
Sarah Palin: When the former Alaska governor had just wrapped up her run as a vice presidential candidate, she commanded $100,000, Politico reports.
Katie Couric: While not a former political figure, Couric did make waves for reportedly collecting $110,000 from the University of Oklahoma for a speaking gig in 2006.
Chelsea Clinton: Missouri may actually have gotten Clinton at a discount, since she charges up to $75,000, the New York Times reports.
The Post reports the University of Missouri also considered other women with lower price tags instead of Hillary or Chelsea Clinton, including “feminist icon Gloria Steinem ($30,000) and journalists Cokie Roberts ($40,000), Tina Brown ($50,000) and Lesley Stahl ($50,000).”
When you add up each of these pieces of the puzzle, it is looking like Warren is launching a specifically targeted campaign that may be destined to distance the very Democratic base that she will need to make any future larger political move and instead, drawing in the far Left. This may coincide with more than rumors that Sanders is using the Democratic Party celebrity and the so-called ‘Unity Tour’ as a method to support his efforts for a third party for the next Presidential race. If so, Elizabeth Warren may be positioning herself as part of that platform, rather than just a regurgitation of her previous position against Wall Street speech payments. If this is the case, they are destined to split the Democratic Party and in that splintering, wreak havoc so that Democrats will never have enough votes to win.
We know that Bernie Sanders will do and say anything to promote his own Democratic Socialist agenda, including dividing the party to a point of no return. However, Elizabeth Warren is a savvy politician and realizes that to achieve the goals of the Dems, she needs to have their support.