“[Trump] is a fraud,” said former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on CNN’s State of the Union. “This guy ran for president of the United States saying, ‘I, Donald Trump, I’m going to take on Wall Street. These guys are getting away with murder.’ Then suddenly he appoints all these billionaires … [and] now he’s going to dismantle legislation that protects consumers.”
Trump has chosen five wealthy business leaders, two generals, and four Republican politicians for his Cabinet. All but two are white; all but two are men.
On Friday Trump signed an executive order ordering a review of U.S. financial regulatory laws and regulations, and nodded to a coming assault on the 2010 package of regulatory revisions known as Dodd-Frank.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (referred to as Dodd-Frank) brought the most significant changes to financial regulation after the Great Recession. The impact touched every part of the nation’s financial services and industry. This complicated legislation, which took months to negotiate, may be overhauled.
“Because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine, that had nice businesses, they just can’t borrow money . . . because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd- Frank,” said President Trump.
Trump wants to encourage more lending to American businesses, shake up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and slam Dodd-Frank with their yearly “stress tests.” These stress tests were designed to gauge if a bank could withstand economic turbulence. Dodd-Frank also drew up “living wills” that lay out how the banks can be dismantled without harming the financial system.
The most controversial component, called the Volcker rule, bars banks from trading in high-risk securities using their own capital. The Volcker rule limits a bank’s ability to hide risky securities off the banks’ balance sheets. Trump then signed a memorandum delaying the Labor Department rule to require financial professionals advising on retirement rules to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own.
Critics claim it’s burdensome and prompts financial advisers to offer ordinary advice to clients.
Sanders was outraged. “He is a good showman, I will give you that — he is a good TV guy,” Sanders said.
So, who are some of Trump’s “friends” with “nice businesses?”
The cabinet is a microcosm.
Although they have little experience overseeing federal departments that they’ll be running, they have a hell of a lot of money.
Trump’s friends include his pick for Department of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson is the CEO of Exxon Mobil and has an estimated net worth of $150 million. Trump tweets that Tillerson has experience dealing with foreign governments. Tillerson’s so experienced in foreign dealings that he won the coveted award from President Vladimir Putin, the “Order of Friendship.”
Trump’s friends also include the Department of the Treasury, former senior executive at Goldman Sachs and a hedge fund manager turned Hollywood producer whose credits include Avatar, American Sniper, and the X-Men movies, Steven Mnuchin. Although Mnuchin has no political experience, he did buy a failed mortgage lender IndyMac, and then spun it into OneWest and sold it for a profit. He’s worth $46 million.
Department of Defense, General James “Mad dog” Mattis is another pal of Trump. He’s a four-star Marine Corps general who led U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013. He’s experienced the Afghanistan and Iraq wars after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and worked with General David Petraeus to produce the field manual on battling counterinsurgents in Iraq.
Department of Justice head, Senator Jeff Sessions whose net worth is estimated at $7.5 million, is also a dear friend. Sessions is a staunch critic of illegal immigration and expanded legal immigration. This crony praised the KKK while criticizing the NAACP and the ACLU. But he’s a friend. He was, after all, the first senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy.
Trump’s pick for Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly. He has more than 40 years in the Marine Corps, and was the U.S. Southern Command commander. He has a deep knowledge of border security and the challenges posed by illegal immigration. Wall anyone?
Trump picked his old friend, Representative Tom Price, worth $13.6 million to the Department of Health and Human Services. He’s a six-term Georgia congressman is chairman of the House Budget Committee, and a leading critic of the Affordable Care Act.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, who grew up in the hood of Detroit, and is now worth $26 million. He’s been appointed to the cabinet.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry now turned Department of Energy is worth $3 Million, and although he served three-and-a-half terms as governor of Texas, a short stint as lieutenant governor, and eight years as Texas agriculture commissioner he called Trump a “cancer on conservatism.” They stayed friends.
Andrew Puzder, is a dear friend, the Department of Labor head, and owns two million shares worth $25.6 million. With no government experience Puzder is best known as the chief executive of the parent company for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the fast-food chain. Puzder claims he likes the fast food chain’s commercials because, “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.” He should. These ads, and the burgers they sling, make him a $7.35 million per year.
Elaine Chao is different. The Department of Transportation made history when then U. S. Secretary of Labor who served from 2001-2009, Chao became the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet. As labor secretary for the full two terms of the George W. Bush administration, Chao brings more civilian experience in the federal government than anyone else in Trump’s Cabinet. She was an immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight and has been focused on improving the competitiveness of America’s workforce by restructuring department programs to empower workers and modernizing regulations to respond to the realities of the 21st century workplace.
Trump’s cabinet also has Department of the Interior, Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana. He’s a Republication Member of the House. Zinke served for more than 20 years in the Navy Seals before entering politics, earning numerous medals. In Congress, he has opposed the sale of federal lands but supported mining and drilling on them.
Department of Commerce Wilbur Ross, goes way back with Trump. The duo share a critical view of U.S. trade policy and have so for the past two decades. Ross, who specialized in turning around manufacturing firms, served as an adviser to Trump during the campaign. Ross has been heralded as, “a champion of American manufacturing and [who] knows how to help companies succeed. Most importantly, he is one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met, and that comes from me, the author of ‘The Art of the Deal’.”
Then there’s Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Perdue, who was the former governor of Georgia, and served two terms. He’s an immigration hawk; he grew up on a farm and earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin, who is a year-and-a-half as a senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs and finally, the most jeered pick Betsy DeVos. That’s been Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education. She’s worth $5.1 billion.
“It is hard not to laugh to see President Trump alongside these Wall Street guys,” Sanders said.