Donald Trump is wasting no time proving to the world where his real loyalties lie.
The US President’s Gatsby government is a who’s who of America’s one per cent.
Despite lambasting his rival Hillary Clinton for her connections with banking giant Goldman Sachs, Trump included no fewer than six Goldmanites in his cabinet.
It’s why people cynically call the Trump administration ‘Government Sachs’.
“Running for office as an outsider is one thing. Instantly inviting Wall Street into that office once you arrive is another,” writes author and former banker Nomi Prins.
A former managing director of Goldman Sachs, Nomi wrote up her experiences in the banking world in her books Other People’s Money and All The Presidents’ Bankers.
“In the years to come, the ideology that matters most won’t be that of the ‘forgotten’ Americans of his Inaugural Address.
“It will be that of Goldman Sachs and it will dominate the US economy and, by extension, the global one.
“The traffic pile up of Goldman personalities in Trump’s corner made their fortunes doing deals — and not the kind that benefited the public.”
Trump promised to take power from Washington and hand it back to the people. Every passing day it’s becoming more obvious that Trump has no interest in doing anything of the kind.
“Perhaps what the president meant was ‘the people at Goldman Sachs,’” Nomi suggests.
Trump’s cabinet is almost literally a government by the banks for the banks.
The US President illustrated this again today when he took the first steps towards rolling back banking rules put in place after the financial crisis.
His main target is the Dodd-Frank Act, which was signed by Barack Obama in 2010. It was the most comprehensive reform of US financial regulation since the Great Depression.
Now Trump wants to undo many of these safeguards.
According to Bloomberg, the financial industry has frequently complained about these ‘regulatory burdens’. It should be no surprise that they’re now being repealed on the advice of Trump’s Wall Street advisers.
It may be the clearest example yet of Trump putting the interests of the few ahead of the many. After all, these regulations were put in place to prevent a repeat of events that triggered the crisis.
Deregulating banks destabilises the global banking system and removes the safeguards that are supposed to protect ordinary investors and taxpayers.
In just two weeks’ time, Trump has already gone so off-message that only a series of ‘alternative facts’ can bridge the gap between what he promised and what he delivers.
The grapes of wrath are growing heavy
Not only does Trump’s government seem more preoccupied with helping Wall Street go back to business as usual, he’s also pushing policies that complicate the lives of his voters.
One of the first acts of Government Sachs was to make mortgages more expensive for people on low incomes and first-time buyers.
To me, that is playing with fire.
People have started to notice that ‘we’re not all in this together’ and ‘the economy doesn’t work for everyone’.
It’s exactly why they voted in a wild card like Trump in the first place.
The new President’s policies have already proved divisive and he’s only going to lose more support if he doesn’t stand up for the people he promised to help in his campaign.
If even an anti-establishment non-politician turns out to be the same as, and quite possibly worse than, his predecessors, then there’s no knowing what happens next.
Before the election filmmaker Michael Moore predicted Trump would win because the Republican candidate was speaking to ‘people who are hurting’. He called Trump “the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them”.
What happens when these people, often described in terms like ‘the economically deprived’, find out that hand grenade didn’t go off?
The anger that helped Trump into the office won’t go away. It’ll keep building up. As John Steinbeck put it ever so beautifully:
“In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”