White House Slams Financial Industry Execs, But Benefits From Their Donations

The president flew to New York today to shake the money tree -- including some fruit from Wall Street.

The president was attending two fundraisers Tuesday evening for the Democratic National Committee, which were expected to raise around $3 million.

Democrats say about a third of the attendees are from the financial sector -- the same sector top White House aides just took to the airwaves to chastise for setting aside tens of billions of dollars for bonuses. Goldman Sachs will award its executives $16.7 billion in bonuses; JP Morgan, $21.8 billion; Citi, $18.7 billion; and Bank of America, $24 billion.

"The American people have limited tolerance for this," White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

And White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on CBS's "Face the Nation," "People are frustrated that Wall Street is back to behavior having just basically four months ago been in a different situation and the only way they got out of it is through the good graces of the government and the tax payers."

And last month, the president rebuked executives.

"We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses," he said on Sept. 14.

The president's fundraising trip coincides with his pay czar Kenneth Feinburg's comments at a National Association of Corporate Directors meeting today, in which he talked about compensation packages he will introduce later this month for the top 25 executives at companies receiving exceptional help from the taxpayer. Those companies include AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors, Chrysler, GMAC and Chrysler Financial.

"I've learned something about the incredible gap, the chasm between Wall Street perceptions and 'Main Street' perceptions," Feinberg said.

Bridging the chasm -- between the White House's criticism and its fundraising -- could be complicated.

Obama Chastises Financial Industry Executives, But Benefits From Their Donations

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, between 1996 and 2006, the finance/credit industry never gave less than 57 percent to the Republican Party. However, during the 2008 election cycle, 58 percent of the industry's political donations went to Democrats.

Yet donations on the whole are not exactly flowing, and tonight's fundraisers will not be a who's who of "Masters of the Universe."

"Though the giants of the financial sector certainly like to donate their money to the people in power, [they're] holding back just a bit here to see how it all plays out with the Obama administration's push for financial regulatory reform," ABC News' Political Director David Chalian said.

And still, tonight the president was expected to criticize members of the financial industry.

"We as a country should never again be faced with such a potential calamity because of the reckless speculation and deceptive practices of a short-sighted and self-interested few," the president will say, according to his prepared remarks.

He is also expected to directly call on those members to pass necessary reforms instead of fighting them -- a moment that could run counter to filling Democratic coffers.

"So if there are folks from the industry here tonight, I ask you to join with us in passing what are necessary reforms; don't fight them," he will say. "It's important for our country. And in the long run, it will be good for your industry to have a level playing field in which everyone knows the rules -- and everyone knows that the rules will be enforced."