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The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins [Kindle Edition]

Jeff Connaughton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Lobbyist, White House Lawyer, and Senate Aide on the Power of America’s Plutocracy to Avoid Prosecution and Subvert Financial Reform


Beginning in January 2009, THE PAYOFF lays bare Washington’s culture of power and plutocracy. It’s the story of the twenty-month struggle by Senator Ted Kaufman and Jeff Connaughton, his chief of staff, to hold Wall Street executives accountable for securities fraud, to stop stock manipulation by high-frequency traders, and to break up too-big-to-fail megabanks.


This book takes us inside their dogged crusade against institutional inertia and industry influence as they encounter an outright reluctance by the Obama administration, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to treat Wall Street crimes with the gravity they deserve. On financial reforms, Connaughton criticizes Democrats for relying on the very Wall Street technocrats who had failed to prevent the crisis and Republicans for staunchly opposing real reforms primarily to enjoy a golden opportunity to siphon fundraising dollars from the Wall Street executives who had raised millions to elect Barack Obama president.


Connaughton, a former lawyer in the Clinton White House, illuminates the pivotal moments and key decisions in the fight for financial reform that have gone largely unreported. His arch, nonpartisan account chronicles the reasons why Wall Street’s worst offenses were left unpunished, and why it’s likely that the 2008 debacle will happen again.



Editorial Reviews

Review

''A compelling account of how the financial lobby works.'' --New York Times

''If you feel like justice was thwarted during the financial crisis, if you feel like the market's been rigged for the insiders and there's no check on it, you've got an ally in Jeff Connaughton . . . An insider's guide to what's gone wrong in Washington, by somebody who made millions as a professional insider.'' --Wall Street Journal

''The great mystery story in American politics these days is why, over the course of two presidential administrations (one from each party), there's been no serious federal criminal investigation of Wall Street during a period of what appears to be epic corruption. People on the outside have speculated and come up with dozens of possible reasons, some plausible, some tending toward the conspiratorial -- but there have been very few who've come at the issue from the inside. We get one of those rare inside accounts in The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins . . . [from] one of the few voices on the Hill who always talked about the subject with appropriate alarm.'' --Rolling Stone

''Jeff Connaughton has a new job: truth teller. The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins is a memoir and more . . . A must read if you're interested in the corrupting influence of lobbyists, the revolving door between Wall Street and those that govern and regulate the financial services industry, and how huge, and ultimately untraceable, amounts of money grease the wheels of government at every step . . . Full of revealing quotes and anecdotes that describe a messy, self-serving, and sometimes ruthless political process.'' --Forbes online

''A new powerful voice who knows how big banks really work and who is willing to tell the truth in great and convincing detail . . . A page-turning memoir that is also a damning critique of how Wall Street operates, the political capture of Washington, and our collective failure to reform finance in the past four years. The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins is the perfect antidote to disinformation put about by global megabanks and their friends.'' --Huffington Post

''This is the most honest book I've read about Washington in years. It really tells it like it is.'' --Andrew Cockburn, author and journalist

''Anyone interested in how Washington works will find The Payoff impossible to put down.'' --Businessweek

''Those interested in understanding the mindset of the people who should be leading the anticorruption charge ought to read this book . . . It's scary and definitely worth a read.'' --Rolling Stone

''The great mystery story in American politics these days is why, over the course of two presidential administrations (one from each party), there's been no serious federal criminal investigation of Wall Street during a period of what appears to be epic corruption. People on the outside have speculated and come up with dozens of possible reasons, some plausible, some tending toward the conspiratorial -- but there have been very few who've come at the issue from the inside. We get one of those rare inside accounts in The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins . . . [from] one of the few voices on the Hill who always talked about the subject with appropriate alarm.'' --Rolling Stone

''Jeff Connaughton has a new job: truth teller. The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins is a memoir and more . . . A must read if you're interested in the corrupting influence of lobbyists, the revolving door between Wall Street and those that govern and regulate the financial services industry, and how huge, and ultimately untraceable, amounts of money grease the wheels of government at every step . . . Full of revealing quotes and anecdotes that describe a messy, self-serving, and sometimes ruthless political process.'' --Forbes online

''A new powerful voice who knows how big banks really work and who is willing to tell the truth in great and convincing detail . . . A page-turning memoir that is also a damning critique of how Wall Street operates, the political capture of Washington, and our collective failure to reform finance in the past four years. The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins is the perfect antidote to disinformation put about by global megabanks and their friends.'' --Huffington Post

''This is the most honest book I've read about Washington in years. It really tells it like it is.'' --Andrew Cockburn, author and journalist

''Anyone interested in how Washington works will find The Payoff impossible to put down.'' --Businessweek

''Those interested in understanding the mindset of the people who should be leading the anticorruption charge ought to read this book . . . It's scary and definitely worth a read.'' --Rolling Stone

From the Inside Flap

In January 2009, Ted Kaufman, longtime aide to Vice President Joe Biden, was appointed to fill Biden’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Former Biden staffer and top DC lobbyist Jeff Connaughton joined Kaufman as his chief of staff. Frustrated with the systemic failures that led to a devastating financial crisis, together they led the charge in challenging both Congress and the Obama administration to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.


THE PAYOFF examines a culture of power elites in our nation’s capital that is slouching toward plutocracy, an alarming tale of reformers with the best of intentions running headlong into institutional failure and influence-peddling politics. It’s the story of a twenty-month struggle to hold Wall Street executives accountable for securities fraud, to stop stock manipulation by high-frequency traders, and to break up too-big-to-fail megabanks. In this book, we experience a U.S. senator’s vigorous crusade against Wall Street’s irresponsible risk-taking that destabilized the American economy. Through times of triumph and disheartening defeats, rarely witnessed from within our country’s legislative body, we encounter inertia, behind-the-scenes maneuvering, and outright reluctance by the Obama administration, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to treat Wall Street crimes with the urgency they deserve. Even Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, when asked about federal judges rebuking the SEC for levying paltry fines, said to Kaufman: “I’m not losing any sleep over it.” Meanwhile, the Republican Party remains staunchly opposed to significant financial reform, primarily to wring fundraising dollars from the same Wall Street players who’d raised millions to elect Barack Obama president.


Connaughton, a former lawyer in the Clinton White House, illuminates the pivotal moments and key decisions in the fight for financial reform that have gone largely unreported. His take-no-prisoners, nonpartisan account chronicles the reasons why Wall Street’s worst offenses were left unpunished, why Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was merely window dressing, why our stock markets are broken, and why it’s likely the 2008 Wall Street–driven debacle will happen again.


Finally, in an incisive self-critique, Connaughton reviews the arc of his own career—from an idealistic Biden acolyte to a money-driven Professional Democrat to Washington critic and commentator—and spells out why all Americans should stand united against crony capitalism.



Product Details

  • File Size: 336 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Prospecta Press (August 16, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008Y4TY92
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Payoff - Why Wall Street Always Wins October 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Wall Street crash of 1929 - 1933 that precipitated and exacerbated the Great Depression led to a series of stringent financial regulations. The S&L crisis of the 1980s resulted in the prosecutions of hundreds of executives. What has been called the Great Recession of 2008 has, 4 years later, resulted in neither regulations nor prosecutions, despite a self-professed reformist president being elected in 2008 by an electorate demanding reforms. In Jeff Connaughton's new book, The Payoff - Why Wall Street Always Wins, we get an insider's perspective as to why even common-sense, highly popular reforms aren't enacted: "In Washington, only the Wall Street lobby is concerned about fraud investigations. And their concern is to prevent them."

For more than 2 decades, Connaughton spent time in Washington as part of the Permanent Class, both within government and as a lobbyist. Tying himself to Senator (and now Vice President) Joe Biden, he used that relationship to make millions as a lobbyist. While technically a Democrat, as a lobbyist Connaughton was indifferent to the politics of his clients. "The rest of the country may be divided into red and blue, but DC is green, and cheerfully so."

When Biden became Vice President, his senate seat was filled by Ted Kaufman, who immediately declared that he wasn't going to seek a 2nd term. "I later learned from reporters that Wall Street was frustrated that they couldn't find a way to harness Ted, because he wasn't running for re-election" said Connaughton, brought on board as Kaufman's Chief of Staff. Both Kaufman and Connaughton vowed that they'd spend their two years "fighting for accountability for the financial crisis...to ensure there would never be another one.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get to Know The Blob September 9, 2012
By Charles
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jeff Coagnaughton who worked for Joe Biden but doesn't like him much went to war against Wall Street corruption in Washington, effectuated by a lobbying monstrosity known "the blob", with an "untouchable" Senator ( itself a political fluke) and survived to tell the fascinating tale of how things really work in that sick city. Told by a person who clearly is no saint as his money to be independent enough to write such a book came from lobbying, that past makes his knowledge credible. This is a must read for anyone interested iin reforming our politics and making Wall Street responsible and somewhat respectable again. The book is gutsy and hard hitting.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth at last. September 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When Wall Street crashed in 2008 and took the rest of the economy with it, Americans understood very clearly that there was a problem, and looked to their elected representatives to fix it. That's what's meant to happen in a democracy. But nothing did happen. This book tells you why, because Jeff Connaughton reports from the belly of the beast. This is the book that explains how Wall Street dictated the precise degree of "reform" it was prepared to accept from Congress: zero. As a senior Senate staffer, Connaughton watched the disaster unfold, powerless to stop it. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how the bankers effortlessly crushed reform, complete with unsparing portraits of politicians like Joe Biden and Chris Dodd who, when told to jump, asked only "how high?"
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Enjoyable Read August 29, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a most enjoyable, as well as a very informative read. The author came across as extremely credible and simply told his experiences in Washington as they actually happened. His insights into both the lobbying and legislative processes were very keen and he relates them very well to the reader. I came away with a much better understanding of the power of Wall Street and the money center banks and how they use it in subtle but effective ways to achieve their objectives. As the author has now retired from "Washington" he is able to tell like it is without worrying about offending anyone. To me, that is the real value of this book as it provides a highly unique perspective in a most objective manner.

This was one of those books that I just couldn't stop reading until I finished it. It really holds one's attention, as well as being highly entertaining, a combination which is very much to my liking. In addition, it moves along at a very quick pace and provides a wealth of knowledge about how "Washington" really works behind the scenes. I highly recommend it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, Timely, and Ultimately Non-Partisan October 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jeff Connaughton's book, THE PAYOFF, is an insightful look at the hold Wall Street has over Washington. After briefly working on Wall Street, Mr. Connaughton used his connection with Senator and later Vice President Joe Biden to climb to the highest ranks of "Professional Democrats." He worked in the White House and on K Street as a lobbyist, but nothing prepared him for what he saw when he acted as Chief of Staff to Senator Ted Kaufman. They worked tirelessly to open the eyes of Americans and legislators alike regarding the perils of Too Big to Fail Banks, but in the end were unable to accomplish much in the face of Wall Street and its never-ending pile of money.

Substantively there's little here for someone who's been paying attention. Wall Street has a stranglehold on our politics. There's been very little done to regulate Wall Street, even in the wake of the Great Recession. However, Mr. Connaughton's brave choice to expose not only his opponents flaws, but his and his party's as well, allows an average American with no multi-million dollar lobbying connections a chance to understand why those in power who supposedly represent our interests do what they do, and more importantly, what they tell themselves so they can sleep well at night.

For anyone interested in financial reform, wall street, or the stranglehold money has over American politics, I highly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but not terribly original
The book sets out to explain why Washington always wins. The book is interesting and well-written, but it suffers from the comparison with other, better books (13 Bankers, The Age... Read more
Published 3 months ago by JPK
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Analysis of the Intersection of Money and Politics
The Payoff presents an insider's perspective of the intersection of power, money and politics and leads us to the obvious conclusion of "Why Wall Street Always Wins". Read more
Published 4 months ago by John R. Frerichs
5.0 out of 5 stars eye opener
The service was quick and the book's condition exactly as described. Everyone in the USA should read this book now!
Published 5 months ago by T. Castagno
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary but familiar pleading for reform
Predicts ongoing financial crises based on both parties being increasingly held hostage by money from Wall Street. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Walter Mason
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressing truth
Well documented experience of self discovery. An artful depiction of corruption in Wall Street and Washington. The nightmare of financial debacle is ongoing. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Moe3812
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insider's view
Interesting insider's view. But he seems unable to ask the deeper questions about why wall street always wins. Read more
Published 9 months ago by J. Pincus
5.0 out of 5 stars If Hillary gets her hands on this book it is curtains for Biden
This book is really not much of a criticism of the "evil bankers and brokers" on Wall Street, but an excellent evisceration of Joe Biden by someone who knows him personally... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Thomas R. Moorer
5.0 out of 5 stars Financial Reform vs Healthcare Reform
Documents the crazy politics that highly favored passing Healthcare Reform over Financial Reform and Job Creation. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Arizona Cowboy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing to see the inside story
This is an incredible and chilling account of how the financial interested are controlling the legislative process with donations (legal bribes) and blatant disinformation. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Brian Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Man
Interesting stories about behind-the-scenes involvement of the 'Brain trusters', in implementing the 'New Deal' programs of FDR, but everything is from a ngeative point of view. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Peter G. Osrunn
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