The CEO of the financial services firm BlackRock, Laurence Fink, is a big supporter of President Obama. "BlackRock CEO Fink Says He Supports Obama's Re-Election," was the headline over a Bloomberg News article in May of this year. Reuters blogger Felix Salmon mentions him as a second-term Treasury secretary: "Top of the list if Obama gets re-elected is Larry Fink, of Blackrock — he wants the job, and he has a pretty solid reputation in finance circles."
So it was pretty staggering to pick up the November-December 2012 issue of Harvard Magazine and find, on the inside cover, a full page advertisement from BlackRock that starts with the language, "Today's markets are as uncertain as ever. But there is one certainty — that the future is surely coming. And it's bringing a higher cost of education, healthcare and retirement. All of which means your nest egg will have to work harder — and last longer — than ever."
So Mr. Fink is advertising to potential customers on the idea that a "higher cost" of education and health care is a "certainty." The catch is that President Obama is running around telling potential voters that his big achievements are reining in their education and health care costs. Here is Mr. Obama in the second presidential debate: "We've expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country. We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program and we said, let's just cut out the middleman. Let's give the money directly to students. And as a consequence, we've seen millions of young people be able to afford college...I said that we would put in place health care reform to make sure that insurance companies can't jerk you around, and if you don't have health insurance, that you'd have a chance to get affordable insurance, and I have."
Here was Mr. Obama in the first presidential debate: "the fact of the matter is that when 'Obamacare' is fully implemented, we're going to be in a position to show that costs are going down. And over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up, it's true, but they've gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we're already beginning to see progress." More: "I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people," and "When it comes to making college affordable — whether it's two-year or four-year — one of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middle men for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders but they were taking billions out of the system. And we said, why not cut out the middle man? And as a consequence, what we've been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans."
In other words, not even the guy who wants to be Obama's Treasury Secretary believes the stuff (as Vice President Biden might put it) that the president is peddling.
I guess there's another way to look at it, too, which is that both Mr. Fink and Mr. Obama see anxiety about increasing education and health care costs as an opportunity. Mr. Fink sees it as a way to build his business by getting people to save money for those expenses. Mr. Obama sees it as a way to get re-elected by offering government programs and rules, rather than private savings, as a solution to these expenses.