Bernie Madoff Thinks Obama’s Policies “Are Too Socialist”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 20 2014 10:51 AM

Bernie Madoff Thinks Obama’s Policies “Are Too Socialist”

Bernard Madoff only likes redistibution of wealth when he's the one doing the redistributing.

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

[Programming note: My three-year-old Macbook suffered from some sort of hard drive failure last Wednesday. I patched it together for a week, hoping to keep it tooting until a replacement arrived, but no luck—at about 8:30 this morning, when I was midway through a post, it blinked off for good. For the next two days, I'm working on borrowed machines and, as a result, will probably blog a little less. But next week! When the new machine that doesn't hang for two–three minutes on a complicated task like "opening a browser"! Ah, that'll make up for it.]

M.J. Lee went to prison to interview Bernie Madoff, in a nice piece of enterprise reporting that pays off with some hilariously bad punditry. Not by Lee! By one of America's least trustworthy, formerly rich New Yorkers. Read how the upstanding Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden flees when asked about Madoff's respect for him, and continue to Madoff's take on other politicians.

Even though he’s donated to Clinton, Madoff doesn’t think she would make a good president. “I certainly wasn’t impressed with her as secretary of state,” he says. “Our foreign policy is a mess.”
Madoff voted for Obama in 2008, but now says he is “terribly disappointed” in the president and would not have voted for him a second time. “His policies are too socialist.” ... New York Mayor Bill de Blasio? “I’m not a great fan of redistribution of wealth,” Madoff says.

My former colleague Matthew Yglesias has written quite a lot about this, about the tendency of rich people to weigh in on politics in manichean terms that reveal how little they pay attention. Madoff gave $372,000 to political candidates over nearly three decades. Almost all of it—89 percent—went to Democrats. (When the Madoff scandal broke, Democrats practically sprained their ankles sprinting to return the checks or donate them to charities.) What did he think he was backing for all those years? Frustratingly, Lee doesn't get into more detail about Madoff's economic policy views. She does get him saying that the SEC is underfunded (timely advice!), but never does one synapse connect to the other synapse and create a unified theory of how much the government should regulate or redistribute wealth.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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