Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump Surrounds Himself With 'Swamp' Creatures

By Timothy Carney

Donald Trump may nominate for Treasury Secretary a Goldman Sachs banker whose biggest patron was George Soros. Alternatively, he could opt for the top bank lobbyist in D.C.

Trump's pledge to "drain the swamp" appears headed for the same fate as President Obama's promise eight years ago to end the reign of the special interests and "end the game-playing" in D.C.

In all corners of his transition team and his planned executive branch, President-elect Trump is placing lobbyists and Wall Street insiders. He's not draining the swamp — he's hiring the swamp creatures.

Steve Mnuchin was a Goldman Sachs banker who started his own investment firm seeded with money from George Soros. He then made huge profits by buying a failed bank off the government with help from a special tweak by regulators.

hen Trump tapped Mnuchin as his campaign's finance chairman, commentators noted the irony of a populist candidate railing against Wall Street and the elites while leaning on this Goldman-born-and-bred Yale alumnus to rustle up the funding for the whole operation. If the Goldman connection is too rich for Trump, he will have to go further down his depth chart, which the New York Times says includes former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty quit Mitt Romney's campaign six weeks out from the 2012 election to take over the Financial Services Roundtable, a K Street lobbying operation whose members include Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and General Electric.

Pawlenty, in this role, has lobbied for renewing the charter of the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that subsidizes exporters and their lenders—and which Trump has said he opposes. Putting a corporate-welfare lobbyist for the biggest banks atop Treasury doesn't really count as "draining the swamp."

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