Peter Orszag is a perfect example of, in the words of Gabriel Sherman, the “close alliance among Wall Street and the economics departments of the major universities and the West Wing of the White House [that] is the military-industrial complex of our time.”
As Sherman explains,
Wall Street has Washington over a barrel—and the values of one can’t help but be the values of the other. Even in Democratic administrations like the current one, once and future Wall Streeters are in position to pull the teeth out of regulations—for what they see as perfectly sensible, perfectly ordinary reasons. There’s no need to cue the scary music; it’s not a conspiracy. It’s just that having lived in the same worlds, read the same textbooks, imbibed the same maxims, been tutored by the same mentors, attended the same confabs in Aspen and Davos—and, of course, been paid with checks from the same bank accounts—they naturally think the same thoughts. To these people, the way things are done is, more or less, the way they have to be done. To change the system, you have to change the people; but the people are the only ones who know how the system works.
In their own minds, they are the masters of the universe, combining Ivy League degrees (which demonstrate they’re smart) with making large sums of money (which is additional confirmation they’re smart) and the ability to walk through the revolving door between Wall Street (where the real money is made) and the White House (where they create the policies that make and keep Wall Street at the center of the universe).
Unfortunately, the crash has done little to dent the confidence of the Wall Street-Washington policy elite, even as the rest of the country correctly understands their lives are being ruined to feed “the military-industrial complex of our time.”