Trump deep­ens Gold­man ties as he builds eco­nomic team

Pres­i­dent-elect’s aides deny he is go­ing back on prom­ises

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

In the heat of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Don­ald Trump ac­cused pri­mary ri­val Ted Cruz of be­ing con­trolled by Gold­man Sachs be­cause his wife, Heidi, pre­vi­ously worked for the Wall Street gi­ant. He slammed Hil­lary Clin­ton for re­ceiv­ing speak­ing fees from the bank.

“I know the guys at Gold­man Sachs. They have to­tal, to­tal con­trol over him,” Trump said of Cruz. “Just like they have to­tal con­trol over Hil­lary Clin­ton.” Now, Trump is putting Gold­man ex­ec­u­tives at the helm of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s eco­nomic team. He’s ex­pected to name bank pres­i­dent Gary Cohn to an in­flu­en­tial White House pol­icy post, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple in­formed of the de­ci­sion, and has al­ready nom­i­nated for­mer Gold­man ex­ec­u­tive Steve Mnuchin to lead the Trea­sury De­part­ment. Steve Ban­non, Trump’s in­com­ing White House se­nior ad­viser, also worked at Gold­man be­fore be­com­ing a con­ser­va­tive me­dia ex­ec­u­tive.

Wall Street ex­ec­u­tives have long wielded in­flu­ence in Wash­ing­ton, fill­ing top jobs in both Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tions. Gold­man Sachs it­self has pro­duced sev­eral Trea­sury sec­re­taries, White House chiefs of staff and top eco­nomic ad­vis­ers.

But the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try’s high-level pres­ence in Trump’s bur­geon­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion runs counter to some core cam­paign mes­sages that en­er­gized his sup­port­ers.

And Gold­man Sachs stocks are up 33 per­cent since Trump’s elec­tion. Trump re­peat­edly warned that Clin­ton’s Wall Street ties - the Demo­crat gave paid speeches to Gold­man and other banks meant she would never re­form the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try. He promised that he would “drain the swamp” in Wash­ing­ton, a city he painted as be­holden to fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal spe­cial in­ter­ests. And he cast him­self as a cham­pion for work­ing-class peo­ple who watched the big banks grow wealth­ier af­ter a gov­ern­ment bailout, but haven’t seen the ef­fects of an im­prov­ing econ­omy in their own lives. “I’m not go­ing to let Wall Street get away with mur­der,” Trump told vot­ers in Iowa. “Wall Street has caused tremen­dous prob­lems for us.” To Democrats, the fact that Trump is now pluck­ing ad­vis­ers from Wall Street smacks of hypocrisy. “Ev­ery­one who voted for Trump, who thought he’d de­fend work­ing peo­ple, pay at­ten­tion to the re­al­ity of what he’s do­ing, not just his rhetoric,” said Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders, who railed against Wall Street’s in­flu­ence in Wash­ing­ton when he ran against Clin­ton in the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

The con­cen­tra­tion of power among so many play­ers who once worked at Gold­man is sure to feed sus­pi­cions of a gov­ern­ment at the service of Wall Street. Gold­man was in­volved in the se­cu­ri­ties mar­ket for sub­prime mort­gages, the same fi­nan­cial in­stru­ments that helped fuel the hous­ing bub­ble and ul­ti­mately led mil­lions of Amer­i­cans to lose their homes to fore­clo­sure. Wall Street ex­ec­u­tives also op­posed the Dodd-Frank fi­nan­cial re­form leg­is­la­tion signed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, leg­is­la­tion Trump has vowed to over­haul. Trump’s ad­vis­ers dis­miss charges that the pres­i­dent-elect is go­ing back on his prom­ises to put the in­ter­ests of work­ing-class Amer­i­cans ahead of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. They say Trump is tap­ping peo­ple who bring real-world ex­pe­ri­ence and busi­ness acu­men to Wash­ing­ton. “You’re not go­ing to find bet­ter peo­ple than those who have been at the top of fi­nance, the top of our mar­kets, un­der­stand the way our mar­kets work,” Kellyanne Con­way, Trump’s se­nior ad­viser, said on MSNBC. Democrats are sure to make an issue of Mnuchin’s Wall Street ties in his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing. Cohn doesn’t need to be con­firmed to serve as di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil, the White House post Trump is ex­pected to name him to.

The NEC helps co­or­di­nate do­mes­tic and global is­sues, pro­vid­ing eco­nomic pol­icy ad­vice to the pres­i­dent and mon­i­tor­ing how the White House’s agenda is im­ple­mented across the gov­ern­ment. If Cohn ac­cepts the job, he also will be the third Gold­man ex­ec­u­tive to run the NEC. Robert Ru­bin was the NEC di­rec­tor un­der Bill Clin­ton, and Stephen Fried­man had the job dur­ing Ge­orge W Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. —AP

NEW YORK: Gold­man Sachs COO Gary Cohn talks on his phone as he waits for the start of a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. Trump is ex­pected to pick Cohn to lead the White House Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple in­formed of the de­ci­sion. —AP

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