The ad­min­is­tra­tion bil­lion­aires

Trump turns to heavy­weight es­tab­lish­ment fig­ures to close the deal

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Don­ald Lam­bro Don­ald Lam­bro is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and con­trib­u­tor to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and his Cabi­net nom­i­nees won’t be in of­fice un­til next month, but the stock mar­ket is al­ready show­ing bullish signs of bet­ter days ahead un­der his pro-growth, tax re­form agenda.

On Wall Street, they’re call­ing it “the Trump rally” that has sent the Dow soar­ing into record ter­ri­tory solely on the ex­pec­ta­tions that a Trump pres­i­dency is go­ing to break the tax-and-spend shack­les the Democrats have slapped on the U.S. econ­omy.

It’s not be the kind of ad­min­is­tra­tion his most fer­vent fans may have ex­pected, filled as it is by Wall Street bil­lion­aires and nom­i­nees straight out of the GOP’s es­tab­lish­ment.

His top picks to date have shown us what his high­est pri­or­ity is: dis­man­tling Pres­i­dent Obama’s failed eco­nomic poli­cies and re­plac­ing them with lower tax rates and the kind of eco­nomic dereg­u­la­tion that will get Amer­ica mov­ing again.

It’s al­ready be­ing hailed as the largest tax cuts since Ron­ald Rea­gan who ush­ered in an eco­nomic ex­pan­sion that gave us 4,5, 6, 7 and 8 per­cent quar­terly GDP growth rates that ended a se­vere re­ces­sion in just two years.

Cor­po­rate tax rates — the high­est in the in­dus­tri­al­ized world — will be sharply re­duced, spurring in­creased cap­i­tal in­vest­ment for busi­ness ex­pan­sion and new, start-up en­ter­prises, which has been no­to­ri­ously weak un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Demo­cratic lead­ers, whose left­ist agenda was spurned by the vot­ers, lost no time in at­tempt­ing to res­ur­rect their false claims that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts will fa­vor only the rich.

His Trea­sury sec­re­tary nom­i­nee, Steven Mnuchin, flatly re­jected that claim this week. “There will be no ab­so­lute tax cut for the up­per class,” he said in a joint ap­pear­ance on CNBC with sec­re­tary of Com­merce nom­i­nee Wil­bur Ross.

“There will be a big tax cut for the mid­dle class,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

Both men re­peat­edly said dur­ing the in­ter­view that the U.S. econ­omy will be Mr. Trump’s high­est pri­or­ity after tak­ing of­fice, as it will in the Repub­li­can House and Se­nate where the GOP’s am­bi­tious tax re­form bill will be ready to hit the ground run­ning on day one.

But if Mr. Trump’s diehard, grass­roots sup­port­ers be­lieved that he would break the big busi­ness es­tab­lish­ment mold in staffing his team, they were in for a rude awak­en­ing.

Mr. Mnuchin has been a Wall Street vet­eran for decades, work­ing at high level ex­ec­u­tive posts at Gold­man Sachs for 20 years, un­til he left to build a suc­cess­ful hedge fund, Dune Cap­i­tal, and a very suc­cess­ful ca­reer in the bank­ing in­dus­try.

Mr. Ross is re­ported to have amassed a $2.5 bil­lion fortune as an in­dus­tri­al­ist. His likely deputy at Com­merce is Todd Rick­ets, son of a multi-bil­lion­aire and the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs.

To date, the rest of Mr. Trump’s nom­i­nat­ing list reads like a Who’s Who of the rich and fa­mous.

Head­ing up the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment will be Betsy DeVos, a Michi­gan bil­lion­aire, and the daugh­ter of Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway.

Mean­time, you can’t get much co­zier with the GOP’s es­tab­lish­ment than Mr. Trump’s nom­i­na­tion for Trans­porta­tion sec­re­tary: Elaine Chao, daugh­ter of a ship­ping mag­nate, and the wife of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell.

But what mat­ters in all this is not how wealthy they are or their long con­nec­tions to the GOP’s es­tab­lish­ment, but their ex­pe­ri­ence and their abil­ity to move Mr. Trump’s agenda on Capi­tol Hill.

In their CNBC in­ter­view Wed­nes­day on the busi­ness net­work’s morn­ing pro­gram, Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Ross went to great lengths to em­pha­size that they would work to­gether with Repub­li­can House and Se­nate lead­ers on a tax re­form bill that Mr. Trump hopes will be the first bill he signs into law.

Both men said the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s goal will be to boost an­nual eco­nomic growth by over three to four per­cent, a level that Mr. Obama never achieved over his eight years in of­fice.

There are ma­jor dif­fer­ences be­tween Mr. Trump’s tax re­form plan and the bill Repub­li­can lead­ers have crafted which would cut taxes across the board, but not as much as Mr. Trump’s in­ten­tion to make deeper cuts for lower-and-mid­dle-in­come Amer­i­cans.

There were also ne­go­ti­at­ing is­sues over re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing cer­tain tax breaks and loop­holes for busi­ness, to make the tax changes as rev­enue neu­tral as pos­si­ble.

House Speaker Paul Ryan sig­naled this week that he was con­fi­dent that a com­pro­mise bill can be achieved early next year.

“I am ex­cited to get to work with this strong team to fix our bro­ken tax code, ease the reg­u­la­tory bur­den on Amer­i­can busi­nesses and grow our econ­omy,” Mr. Ryan said.

Praise for Mr. Trump’s eco­nomic team also came from yet an­other high pow­ered es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure, John En­gler, pres­i­dent of the in­flu­en­tial Busi­ness Roundtable.

“They un­der­stand that mod­ern­iz­ing our out­dated, anti-com­pet­i­tive tax sys­tem will be the most ef­fec­tive way to pro­duce the eco­nomic growth that puts more peo­ple to work in good jobs,” Mr. En­gler said.

Through­out his bom­bas­tic cam­paign, Mr. Trump played fast and loose with his histri­onic, in­cen­di­ary rhetoric that made a lot of prom­ises he could not and can­not not keep.

But the cam­paign’s over and its now time to ne­go­ti­ate with the govern­ing in­sti­tu­tion he rarely men­tioned in his off-the-cuff speeches: Congress.

It says a lot about the real Don­ald Trump that he is now turn­ing to heavy­weight es­tab­lish­ment fig­ures to close the deal.

There were also ne­go­ti­at­ing is­sues over re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing cer­tain tax breaks and loop­holes for busi­ness, to make the tax changes as rev­enue neu­tral as pos­si­ble.

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