Obama begins lucrative career as Wall Street speaker

Barack Obama has begun cashing in on his time in the White House with paid Wall Street speeches less than a year after leaving office , a practice which drew stinging rebukes for Hillary Clinton during last year ’ s presidential campaign .
The former US president will appear Monday before a who ’ s who of the US health care industry at a conference to be held next week by the New York trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald , according to two sources with knowledge of the matter .
He will deliver remarks before answering questions from the audience , they said on condition of anonymity . Obama will discuss his signature 2010 health care reform legislation , known as Obamacare , which Republican lawmakers are still working to dismantle after several failed attempts .
According to a person briefed on Obama ’ s planned appearance , he will be paid about $ 400, 000.
In August , Obama addressed a New York gathering held by the Chicago private banking and wealth management firm Northern Trust.
Panelists at that event , according to the firm ’s website , included billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg , chief Microsoft cybersecurity advisor Jonathan Trull and IBM general manager for “ blockchain ” technology Marie Wieck.
Obama received $ 400, 000 for his Northern Trust appearance , according to Bloomberg News, which also reported Monday that the former president had made a similar appearance this month at the private equity behemoth Carlyle Group .
Carlye Group and Northern Trust both declined to comment when contacted by AFP . A spokeswoman for Cantor Fitzgerald confirmed that Obama would attend next week’ s event but offered no additional details.
The speeches are the first Obama has given to Wall Street since leaving the Oval Office on January 20. Since May , Obama has made paid appearances in Italy , Germany, Scotland , Canada, Indonesia and South Korea .
He is also due to make an appearance later this month in Toronto and to appear at a New York synagogue in January.
“ Since leaving office, President Obama has spent his time doing public and private events, both paid and unpaid , that are true to his values and his record , ” Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman , told AFP.
“ Consistent with that , his paid speeches in part have allowed president Obama to contribute $ 2 million to Chicago programs offering job training and employment opportunities to low - income youth . ”
The appearances nevertheless risk drawing the same criticism that bedevilled Clinton during last year ’s White House campaign , exposing Obama to barbs from the left of the Democratic Party, which currently has no clear standard bearer .
Clinton has since written she now regrets delivering paid remarks to the investment bank Goldman Sachs and others because it created the impression that she was in their pockets .
Since her defeat , Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren , who are fiercely critical of the financial industry , have taken on more prominent roles in the party.
“ Given that (Obama ) is probably not going to run for office again, being paid to give speeches by Wall Street firms will not compromise any policy decisions now or in the future , ” said Randy Albelda , an economist at the University of Massachusetts Boston .
“ Still , these type of appearances (and being paid well for them ) may tarnish his reputation among a liberal base and bolster the perception that Democrats are the party of the elite . ”
Wall Street has viewed Obama with some caution . As president, he denounced the financial industry ’s “ reckless practices ” while pushing for stricter government oversight .
Still , the Obama administration failed to prosecute a single senior Wall Street banker after the 2008 financial crisis and did not dismantle any of the banks deemed “too big to fail . ”
Obama is also hardly the first former leader to work the paid speech circuit . Former British premier Tony Blair and former US president Bill Clinton have done so famously .
And in 2013 , former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared at the annual SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT ) conference in Las Vegas , an event spearheaded by President Donald Trump ’ s one -time communications director Anthony Scaramucci . (AFP )