People walk down Wall Street in New York City.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty

Trump’s brand of populism goes out of its way to help Wall Street

Updated

Just a few weeks after Election Day 2016, Stephen Moore, a conservative economist who advised Donald Trump during the campaign, told a group of Republicans that the party’s economic vision had taken an important turn.

“Just as Reagan converted the GOP into a conservative party, Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party,” Moore said at the time.

After the election, the Republican president acted as if he believed the rhetoric. In April, Trump spoke at the North America’s Building Trades Unions’ national conference and said to applause, “Washington and Wall Street have done very, very well for themselves. Now it’s your turn.”

Those who want to believe Trump may not want to read this Wall Street Journal piece:

The Trump administration proposed a wide-ranging rethink of the rules governing the U.S. financial sector in a report that makes scores of recommendations that have been on the banking industry’s wish list for years.

The Treasury Department report, released Monday, gives the most detailed road map yet for President Donald Trump’s promise to revisit a wave of regulations put in place after the financial crisis. The proposals would affect activities ranging from mortgage lending to Wall Street trading.

If Mr. Trump’s regulatory appointees eventually implement them, the recommendations would pare back restrictions advanced by former President Barack Obama’s administration, which argued they were necessary to guard against excessive risk-taking and a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), meanwhile, continues to brag that while the Russia scandal intensifies, he remains focused on his top priorities – such as removing safeguards that Wall Street lobbyists find inconvenient.

“Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party’? Um, no.

The president may like to sell himself as a people’s champion, but if we look past what Republicans say and focus on what they do, it’s clear that the GOP is as committed as it’s ever been to representing the interests of banks and the financial industry.

Indeed, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum noted yesterday that if congressional Republicans’ legislative plans go through, “it’s even possible that Wall Street would, on net, end up less regulated than it was before the Great Crash” in 2008.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went so far a few months ago to declare, “To treat all these banks like they’re a bunch of crooks and you have to watch everything they do is, I think, beyond the pale.”

In other words, with Republicans in control of Washington, there’s an assumption that Wall Street deserves the benefit of the doubt, and shouldn’t be bothered with a bunch of pesky safeguards.

In February, Trump spoke at CPAC and assured conservatives, “The GOP will be, from now on, the party also of the American worker…. We will not answer to donors or lobbyists or special interests.”

It was as audacious a lie as any Trump has ever told.

Donald Trump and Financial Industry

Trump's brand of populism goes out of its way to help Wall Street

Updated