NEW YORK -- There are growing signs that Wall Street is trying to mend its rocky relationship with a president who castigated them as fat cats and ushered through tough new regulations after the financial crisis.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has recently been in contact with the White House and congressional leaders, while Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein publicly called for a new spirit of compromise and reconciliation. CEOs of 12 major American companies also held a closed-door meeting with President Barack Obama last week.
The looming fiscal cliff is bringing businesses and Obama back together. Both sides are worried that Congress won't strike a deal to avoid the automatic budget cuts and tax increases that economists fear will plunge the nation into a recession early next year.
He is the president — the election is over, said Kathryn Wylde, president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization that represents major financial firms and other companies. The Wall Street community wants to unite behind a strong president.
Wall Street might have overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney's presidential campaign with donations, but executives have been quietly working behind the scenes with administration officials for months, Wylde said.
They have been helping build support for raising revenue — higher taxes — as part of a deal that would include spending cuts and entitlement reform. Getting CEOs on board could help provide political cover to congressional Republicans who in previous fiscal fights have thwarted deals with Obama.
That's where their charm is real, said Jeff Connaughton, a former lobbyist and congressional aide who wrote the book The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins. If they actually helped soften up the Republicans on being OK with raising revenue, that's where they could pile up some real brownie points with Obama.
Wall Street executives have been reaching out to both sides of the aisle now that the contentious election is over.
In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Goldman CEO Blankfein urged corporations and the Obama administration to work closer together. He also backed tax increases for wealthy Americans so long as the government is serious about cutting government spending.
Dimon, who has sometimes been a critic of Obama, met with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew last month. He also has reached out to congressional leaders about preventing a fiscal crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
As part of that charm offensive, Dimon even called Elizabeth Warren to congratulate her on being elected a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. Warren has been a fierce critic of the banking industry, and earlier this year called for Dimon to step down as a New York Federal Reserve board member because of a perceived conflict of interest.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said business leaders can help spur a deal by warning of the economic consequences of allowing the government to go over the fiscal cliff.
The election's over, and the issue is fixing the debt, Alexander said. They can create an environment in which senators and congressman are willing to take difficult votes on fixing the debt, because it's going to be hard dirty work, very unpopular, once people see the details of it, but it absolutely has to be done.