Given the grief I have previously directed at both President Obama and Thomas Friedman for throwing around the term "fat cat" as a way to abuse people in the financial industry trying to make profits for their shareholders and themselves, it is worth mentioning that Tuesday in Washington the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley of Iowa, was orating on the Senate floor: "That sounds like a great deal for the fat cats on Wall Street, but how about the taxpayers from Main Street who have to pick up the tab?"
Regular readers of FutureOfCapitalism.com know we're certainly not averse to criticizing the banks or even certain bankers or ex-bankers. But we'd also submit it would be a good thing for the level of discourse and clarity of public understanding if the term "fat cat" were retired. It just demonizes successful capitalists.
Mr. Grassley may have a point about the underlying issue he raises about the level of underwriting fees that banks are earning for "Build America Bonds." But his use of the term "fat cats," as well has his invocation of the often false and heavily charged dichotomy between Wall Street and Main Street, suggest he isn't just trying to save the taxpayers money, but that instead he somehow has it in for the financial industry. It's yet more proof, as if more were needed, that the Democrats hardly have a monopoly on bad behavior in Washington.
If one wanted to stoop to Mr. Grassley's level, one might suggest that the real fat cats are Americans who are overweight or obese at three times the rate they were 30 years ago, thanks in significant part to Grassley-backed federal subsidies for high fructose corn syrup that originates on farms in Mr. Grassley's Tall Corn State.
Anyway, it'd be nice if, during Mr. Grassley's next campaign fundraising trip to Manhattan, he encountered some bankers who, before or instead of writing out the checks, would politely ask the senator to cease referring to them as fat cats.