Flu Shot Has Wall Street Smarting

Congress is in a tizzy

By Victoria McGrane
|  Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009  |  Updated 10:45 AM EDT
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Flu Shot Has Wall Street Smarting

AFP/Getty Images

But perhaps the worst fallout, from Wall Street’s perspective, is the public relations one.

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Wall Street has a new headache to deal with on Capitol Hill, and, for once, it’s not about bailouts or bonuses — at least not of the cash variety — although it may be about influence.

News reports that Wall Street giants such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup had gotten their own private stash of swine flu vaccine sent Congress into a tizzy last week.

Now, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has called a hearing to examine how those pesky bankers got the scarce vaccine before the people who health experts say really need it.

And the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a freedom-of-information request with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, demanding documentation to explain why Wall Street beat out at-risk people such as schoolchildren and pregnant women.

But perhaps the worst fallout, from Wall Street’s perspective, is the public relations one, as painfully illustrated on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, when Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler pounced on the story for their “Really!?!” segment.

“Really, Goldman Sachs, really? ... Do you know that you have a serious PR problem?” asked Meyers, questioning the wisdom of the firm’s taking a batch of H1N1 vaccine before schools and hospitals got it.

“I know that, to you guys, swine flu is almost as terrifying as drinking tap water or sending your kids to public school, but really?” he continued.

But it was Poehler who hit the nail on the head when she said Wall Street was “making it way too easy, guys, really.”

Wall Street POLITICO is a weekly column looking at issues that drive business.

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