But Wall Street has a lot of money, and that money offers a lot of influence over the economy, and that means that Wall Street has a lot of clout on Capitol Hill. The political influence of banks — which we'll use interchangeably with Wall Street, since most people do — isn't all campaign contributions. The bank bailout during the recession didn't happen because Goldman Sachs guys made big contributions to a few guys in the House; it happened because banks told people in power that if they weren't bailed out, the economy would collapse. If you had tried saying that to President George W. Bush, he probably wouldn't have believed you. When Wall Street bankers did, they got bailed out.
We were talking about this after the New York primary because of an interesting bit of exit poll data. A majority of Democrats told the exit pollsters that they believed Wall Street did more to hurt the economy than to help it. Perhaps more surprising, Republicans were also more likely to say hurt than help. This was an exit poll in New York, mind you, which also happens to be where Wall Street lives. (It lives in downtown Manhattan, but it also has a place in the Hamptons.)
This week, the public radio show "Marketplace" released a poll conducted by Edison Research (part of the same operation that does exit polling). That survey found that it wasn't just New Yorkers who viewed Wall Street as more harmful than beneficial; a majority of Americans in total felt the same way.
In fact, a majority of nearly every demographic group picked "Wall Street does more to hurt the lives of most Americans" over "Wall Street does more to help the lives of most Americans." More men chose hurt, more women, more white people, more black people, more Democrats, more Republicans. The only group for which a majority didn't choose hurt over help was people with post-graduate degrees -- and even then, a plurality picked hurt.
This, as much as anything, explains why Wall Street is such an effective punching bag in this election cycle. One of Bernie Sanders's most effective lines of attack against Hillary Clinton was demanding that she release transcripts from speeches given to Goldman Sachs. Donald Trump has tried to link Clinton to Wall Street, too, an effort made a bit trickier by Trump's decision to start fundraising from Wall Street himself. (Clinton, for her part, insisted that she would be tougher on Wall Street than anyone.)
Wall Street probably isn't sweating this too much, mind you. Sure, everyone hating it makes it a bit trickier to twist arms in the House and Senate, but Wall Street is the national arm-twisting champion for 50 years running. Oh, you don't like us? Wall Street sniffs as it boards its helicopter to start its weekend in Montauk early. That's a real shame.
At least that's what we think this anthropomorphized version of Wall Street said. The helicopter is loud.