January 15, 2010
Will President Obama's Jedi Mind Powers Work on Wall Street? Probably Not.
Posted by Christine Hurt

I have a substantive post later on the financial crisis responsibility fee (bank tax), but here's my snarky post.

In unveiling the bank tax yesterday, President Obama seemed to call on his inner Obi-Wan in anticipating and preempting any response from Wall Street firms other than "Thank you sir, may I have another."  Here is the full text of President Obama's remarks.

For all of you who haven't seen Star Wars hundreds of time, recall Obi-Wan's exchange (from IMDB) with stormtroopers as he and Luke Skywalker are beginning their journey to rescue Princess Leia with R2-D2, who escaped Darth Vader's troops with valuable information on the Death Star:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.

Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.

Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.

Obi-Wan: These aren't the droids you're looking for.

Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.

Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.

Obi-Wan: Move along.

Stormtrooper: Move along... move along.

Now, here is what President Obama says to the banks subject to the bank tax: 

"What I say to these executives is this: Instead of sending a phalanx of lobbyists to fight this proposal or employing an army of lawyers and accountants to help evade the fee, I suggest you might want to consider simply meeting your responsibilities."

But what about the argument that banks will just pass on the cost of the fee to customers?
And I'd urge you to cover the costs of the rescue not by sticking it to your shareholders or your customers or fellow citizens with the bill, but by rolling back bonuses for top earners and executives.
But what about the argument that banks then won't be able to make loans and help get credit flowing again?
And more broadly, I am continuing to call on these firms to put greater effort into helping families stay in their homes, to provide small businesses with needed loans, and to embrace -- rather than fight -- serious financial reform.
Move along. . . .move along.  If President Obama is successful in threading this needle -- bailing out Wall Street and making Main Street think he's on their side all along -- then maybe he is a Jedi!

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