POLITICS

The Rich Will Hashtag Even More Pricey Scarves, If Trump Gets His Way

Trump is making things a whole lot easier for the Louise Lintons of the world.

WASHINGTON ― Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton took a government chartered jet to Kentucky on Monday where they briefly viewed the total solar eclipse while they just happened to be standing outside of a Fort Knox depository housing nearly $200 billion dollars worth of gold bullion. 

The wealthy couple’s jaunt first made news after Linton, a former model and author, posted a glam shot to Instagram of her exiting the government jet, donning the finest couture. Hermes, Tom Ford, Roland Mouret and Valentino were all hashtagged, of course. When a commenter called Linton out for flying on a government plane for an undefined trip with her husband, she responded with sarcastic screed that highlighted a tired trope of the rich. 

“Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours,” she wrote in a later deleted comment. “You’re adorably out of touch.”

The aggrieved nature of Linton’s response is in line with that of many of the supporters of President Donald Trump. Not the aggrieved working class white voters who came out in large numbers to support the president, but rather his aggrieved wealthy supporters who favor the traditional Republican Party policy agenda of lower taxes for them, less corporate regulation and fewer social safety net supports for the poor and middle class.

Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Louise Linton

More than seven months into his presidency, the policy agenda put forward by Trump, his administration and his party in Congress favors the Lintons of the world and not the “forgotten men and women” that Trump promised to champion in his campaign. Trump has simply stamped his personal brand on traditional Republican supply-side economics policies. They include instituting tax cuts for the rich, gutting social safety net programs and deregulating corporations, policies favored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and their powerful donors. 

“The extent to which powerful corporate private sector institutions are unhappy with some of the aesthetics of the Trump administration, but are ecstatic with his policies is too little appreciated,” Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research, told HuffPost.

This is visible in the rapid increase in stocks of financial institutions after it became clear that Trump would not follow through on his campaign theme of bashing bankers. Instead, he has appointed officials to top economic policy and financial regulatory positions who are more favorable to the financial sector than perhaps any administration since the 1920s. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is just one of the almost comical number of alums from the financial giant to have served in Trump’s administration.

Goldman Sachs had long been criticized as “Government Sachs” for its outsized influence in Washington. Hauser said that “was intended as a critique not as a governing ethos, but Trump may not have picked up on that subtlety.” It’s just another example Trump turning the subtext into text.

Linton’s husband and other officials have already begun the work of stripping away and undermining financial reforms enacted after the Great Recession.

As treasury secretary, Mnuchin will be leading the Trump administration’s effort to roll back financial sector regulations and reforms. The administration has already begun the process of repealing the fiduciary rule imposed in the last year of Obama’s second term. This rule requires financial advisers to act in the best interest of their clients instead of imposing unnecessary costs and generating commissions and bonuses for themselves at the expense of their clients. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) argue that repealing this rule will cost retirees $3.7 billion in savings that will be diverted to wealthy investment firms. 

Linton’s husband and other officials have already begun the work of stripping away and undermining financial reforms enacted after the Great Recession.

In May, Trump also began to gut the Volcker Rule, which put limits on the reckless financial bets by banks that helped cause the 2008 financial meltdown. Most observers believe the Volcker Rule will be completely neutered by Trump’s economic team of former bankers and bank lawyers including Mnuchin, as well as acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika, Joesph Otting, the former OneWest executive who will replace Noreika once confirmed and Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton, who served as Goldman Sach’s attorney during the bailouts.

Obama-era rules protecting workers are being stripped away one-by-one under Trump. His administration has already declined to defend new overtime rules for hourly workers. It has chosen to side with employers over workers in a Supreme Court case that could decide how expansive arbitration agreements can be. It also has begun the process of repealing rules requiring the disclosure of anti-union activities by employers. And it has rescinded the “joint-employer” rule that made companies liable if their subcontractor’s violate labor laws. The administration has also delayed the implementation of a rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Commission creating a public database of work-related injuries.

Then there’s Trump’s signature legislative drive to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. The failed legislation would have stripped more than 20 million Americans of health insurance and cut taxes on investments for the rich. Numerous studies showed that the legislation Trump backed would have inordinately hurt poor and middle class Americans, particularly those living in the rural counties that provided him with his largest margins of support.

And then there’s Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch’s unusual appointment maintained the conservative five vote bloc on the Supreme Court that has consistently favored corporations over workers. This lifetime appointment will provide victories for large employers, multinational corporations and the wealthy for decades to come after Trump is gone from the scene.

Trump ran as the only Republican in a crowded primary to promise not to cut Social Security and Medicare. The budget he proposed, which will almost certainly never be enacted, did, however, do just that.

Perhaps the working class voters who supported Trump in large numbers don’t care about the damage these policies could have on their lives. Trump’s appeal may be largely cultural ― he’ll attack the eggheads that these supporters feel are lording over them and the minorities they feel are taking their jobs. They’ll get emotional catharsis through his demagogic demonization of disfavored groups. His leading example will help people treat each other worse.

The Louise Lintons will get everything else.

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