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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Let's have some of that good old Trumpish populism!

by digby

Because he cares about the plight of the white working class and wants more than anything to help them achieve the American dream:
A few weeks after the election, Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs, was summoned to Trump Tower for a discussion about the economy. It would be the first of many such meetings with President-elect Donald J. Trump.

During that sit-down, on Nov. 29, Mr. Cohn briefed Mr. Trump on what he regarded as the chief hurdle to expanding the economy, according to people who were briefed on the discussion: a stronger dollar, which would undermine efforts to create jobs.

Mr. Cohn also argued that the bold infrastructure projects that Mr. Trump envisioned would need private-industry partners, those people said, in order to avoid weighing down the government with costs.

That got Mr. Trump’s attention.

The president-elect turned to the other people in the room — his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; his chief of staff, Reince Priebus; and Steven T. Mnuchin, his campaign’s chief fund-raiser and Mr. Trump’s nominee to be Treasury secretary — surprised that his infrastructure ideas had such a potential downside.

“Is this true?” Mr. Trump asked the group, according to those people. Heads nodded. “Why did I have to wait to have this guy tell me?” he demanded.

It would not be the only time Mr. Cohn was a lonely voice in Mr. Trump’s inner sanctum. Two and a half months after that initial meeting, with key economic posts in the White House and cabinet still vacant, he has become the go-to figure on matters related to jobs, business and growth. He resigned from his position at Goldman in December to become director of the president’s National Economic Council.

Apparently, he's been sitting down with the president on a regular basis to tutor him on economics and has formed a separate power base that may offset the white nationalist world domination agenda. So Wall Street has Trump's ear. Surprise.

He doesn't seem to be insane, which is a big plus in this administration. But he's also not a populist which one would think would disturb Trump's supporters but they don't seem to care.

The fact is that Trump is not a populist and never was one. He's a white nationalist, like Bannon, and there are economic elements to that nationalism. But the devil is in the details and Trump doesn't have a clue about that. (For instance this thing about currency....)

Anyway, here's what we can look forward to:
Topping Mr. Cohn’s current to-do list: corporate and individual tax reforms, to be carried out at the same time; improvements to infrastructure to create new jobs; and regulatory relief in general.

He is also studying how to revamp the Affordable Care Act, which Mr. Trump vowed during the campaign to repeal — a promise that is proving to be more complicated to keep than he had expected.

Mr. Cohn is working with a health care specialist and consulting with House Republicans: Speaker Paul D. Ryan; Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader; and Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the Financial Services Committee. Mr. Cohn is determining which aspects of the act may be worth keeping (allowing people to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and mandating coverage of people with pre-existing conditions) and which may not (allowing people to sign up for health insurance outside of the typical enrollment periods).

Orin Snyder, a corporate litigator and longtime friend of Mr. Cohn’s who speaks to him regularly, said, “He is working around the clock, energized and focused like a laser beam on developing the best plan for implementing the president’s economic agenda.”

This account of Mr. Cohn’s role in economic matters, amid the tumultuous first three weeks of the Trump administration, is based on interviews with four people who have observed or been briefed on his transition from Goldman to the White House and his early work in the administration.

Mr. Trump has already vowed to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial regulation law that was passed in 2010, and has ordered a reassessment of an Obama-era rule requiring financial advisers to act in the best interest of their clients. The efforts have helped push up stock markets, particularly shares of financial companies.

They have also generated outrage in some quarters. “The way I see this, there was a devastating financial crisis just over eight years ago,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said. “Goldman Sachs was at the heart of that crisis. The idea that the president is now going to turn over the country’s economic policy to a senior Goldman executive turns my stomach.”

It is not just that Mr. Cohn, 56, has a prominent role in economic policy; he is one of the few senior administration officials addressing those issues on the job right now. Questions of job creation and financial regulation might fall within the purview of not only the National Economic Council but also of the Council of Economic Advisers — a panel of experts that has historically operated within the White House — and the Treasury secretary. But Mr. Trump indicated on Wednesday that the vacant position of council chairman would not be cabinet-level, and Mr. Mnuchin has yet to be confirmed.

Mr. Cohn collaborates frequently with Mr. Kushner, who is now a senior adviser to Mr. Trump. Along with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, Mr. Cohn recently helped persuade the president not to pursue an executive order that would have rolled back rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Trump didn't give any speeches to Goldman Sachs so many people considered him a friend of the working class because he hates multinational trade agreements. Of course if anyone had listened to what he actually said, he doesn't hate them because they are unfair to American workers, it's because he thinks "America" can negotiate a better deal for American businesses if they can strong arm other countries one on one. He's just fine with competition driving down American wages, as long as the competitors are American businesses. In fact, he has said outright that wages have to come down so that we can "compete" with the low wage countries around the world.

I'm sure Cohn agrees with that and will find a way to guide our puerile TV addict president to the right policies. His role, and Mnuchin's,  will be to make the country very, very safe for billionaires. Bannon and Miller will be fine with all that as long as they can build their walls and crack down on "crime" and Make America White Again.