Donald Trump describes himself as a populist, taking on the establishment. Somebody, who would “drain the swamp.” Somebody who said, “We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.” And somebody who said, “We are going to send the special interests packing and we are once again going to have a government that is of, by, and for the people.” These are all fine sentiments that I agree with. Washington has been dominated by lobbyists and powerful special interests for decades and it is time we rid Washington of their influence. Unfortunately, what we are beginning to see is what I feared, and that is a lot of what Mr. Trump said to win votes is not what he intends to do as the president of the United States.
Let me give you just a few examples:
- David Malpass, who is heading up Mr. Trump’s economic transition team, is the former chief economist at Bear Stearns. Not exactly a people friendly institution, but one of the large banks in this country that received a $13 billion taxpayer bailout before it was purchased by JP Morgan Chase.
- Trump’s leading candidate for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnunchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years and lobbied to make it easier for banks to force Americans out of their homes during the foreclosure crisis. I think many of Trump’s voters might be surprised to find out that he is considering for secretary of Treasury a gentleman from Goldman Sachs.
- During the campaign, Mr. Trump promised he would not cut Social Security, but the man in charge of Trump’s Social Security transition team, Michael Corby, is a former lobbyist, who spent most of his career fighting to cut and privatize Social Security.
- To my mind, one of the great concerns of the American people is the outrageously high price of prescription drugs in this country, the fact that we pay the highest amount in the world. Mr. Trump said during the campaign that he would require Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies and allow Americans to purchase cheaper drugs from overseas, so called re-importation. But one of the leaders of Trump’s transition team, Mr. J. Steven Hart, is a lobbyist for Pfizer, one of the largest pharma companies in America.
Bottom line here is Mr. Trump said a whole lot during the campaign. He talked about being a populist, he talked about taking on special interests, he talked about fighting lobbyists, and yet the initial indications that we are seeing is that not much of what he talked about during the campaign has much to do with where he is today.