93% economic recovery gains went to the top 1%. 1% still gives Obama shade.

Super rich feel victimized by the Obama Administration, Chrystia Freeland writes:

Evident throughout the letter is a sense of victimization prevalent among so many of America’s wealthiest people. In an extreme version of this, the rich feel that they have become the new, vilified underclass. T. J. Rodgers, a libertarian and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has taken to comparing Barack Obama’s treatment of the rich to the oppression of ethnic minorities—an approach, he says, that the President, as an African-American, should be particularly sensitive to. Clifford S. Asness, the founding partner of the hedge fund AQR Capital Management, wrote an open letter to the President in 2009, after Obama blamed “a small group of speculators” for Chrysler’s bankruptcy. Asness suggested that “hedge funds really need a community organizer,” and accused the White House of “bullying” the financial sector. Dan Loeb, a hedge-fund manager who supported Obama in 2008, has compared his Wall Street peers who still support the President to “battered wives.” “He really loves us and when he beats us, he doesn’t mean it; he just gets a little angry,” Loeb wrote in an e-mail in December, 2010, to a group of Wall Street financiers.

Freeland profiles hedge fund manager Lee Cooperman. It’s a worthy read. Further evidence that the 47% gaffe is no gaffe but a deeply held principle among some (possibly most, save Warren Buffet) 1% that are moochers and the 53% are givers. This is so batty to me. By now, the numbers don’t match up and has been widely reported that huge swaths of the 47% live in districts that will likely vote Romney. I’m not sure how the hedge fund guys feel victimized by Obama. Freeland offers more of reality fact based counterpoint to their feelings:

The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty have found that ninety-three per cent of the gains during the 2009-10 recovery went to the top one per cent of earners. Those seated around the table at dinner with Al Gore had done even better: the top 0.01 per cent captured thirty-seven per cent of the total recovery pie, with a rebound in their incomes of more than twenty per cent, which amounted to an additional $4.2 million each.

The narrative that crops back up is the overwrought work ethic, bootstraps, individual hard work, yadda yadda yadda, ignoring a social power structure that enable Cooperman to excel in the first place. Cooperman says I’m sure he worked hard, but he didn’t build a motor and revolutionize transportation. He invested in cheap companies and sold them. His infamous letter and his remarks just reads like scenes from Atlas Shrugged (ugh… I know, and sorry, but it’s just true). Which is why this “We built this”/”You didn’t build that” tug of war is just so stupid.

The Recovery Act has been a feather in the Obama Administration’s cap while the Romney camp flails in pinpointing an economic strategy that would appeal to middle and working class folk. Yet, as noted in Freeland’s piece, only 7% of 99% reaped the rewards from that investment. And in this election cycle, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented amount of money invested in PAC directed to persuade the voting public to Romney camp. In anticipation of Wednesday’s first presidential debate, how do you think a clever moderator would frame this question to both candidates? Obama’s economic policy narrative is targeting the middle class, Romney has clumsily articulated a narrative that sides with upper middle class to super rich (even ginning up racial animus and class resentment with oblique and direct references to social benefit programs). This is starting to look really messy, huh?

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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