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The Goldman Sachs Effect

January 29, 2017

Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Goldmanizing Donald Trump

We now find ourselves in Donald Trump’s back-to-the-future world.  And why should we be surprised?  His whole campaign pitch was to do it “again” -- to return to his dream of past American greatness, which seems mired in a 1950s America of burning fossil fuels and urban smog.  In his very first days in office, through executive orders he’s already moved to revive two pipeline projects: the building of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, cancelled by the Obama administration in 2015 after years of massive environmental protests, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, halted by the Obama administration late last year after fierce and effective protests by Native American tribes and others.  At the same time, his administration has “frozen” all grants and contracts at the Environmental Protection Agency, a first step toward what will undoubtedly be an attempt to drag us back into an American past that lacked serious environmental protections.  The president also took the first step -- another executive order -- toward rolling back (or simply rolling up) the Affordable Care Act.  This was part of what will clearly be an attempt to quite literally roll back history by obliterating the “legacy” of the country’s first black president, including possibly bringing back CIA "black sites" and "enhanced interrogation techniques," both banned by Obama on entering the Oval Office.  (Again, none of this should be surprising since Trump began his political career as the chief spokesman for birtherism, the initial attempt to delegitimize Obama's presidency.) And we await the new president’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee to fill the empty seat of Antonin Scalia, knowing that at least one of his leading choices, a fierce opponent of both abortion and gay rights, would be ready to roll the clock back, in the case of Roe v. Wade, to the years before 1973, if not to the 1950s. Clearly, these are just initial steps on the road not to a genuine future but to what, by now, has become a kind of fantasy past.

And speaking of “again,” as TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents' Bankers, points out today, there’s always Goldman Sachs, which is really a case of again and again and again. Who even remembers the campaign moments when Trump claimed that “the guys at Goldman Sachs... have total control over Hillary Clinton” and tweeted that she was “owned by Wall Street”? Now, The Donald has smashed all past records by appointing six Goldman Sachs alumni to posts in his administration. Think of that as again with a couple of exclamation points attached to it, a coup for an investment bank that has been a government powerhouse, as Prins makes so clear, since the 1930s. So buckle up, settle into that time machine, and head back to the future in an unprecedented way. Tom

The Goldman Sachs Effect
How a Bank Conquered Washington
By Nomi Prins

Irony isn’t a concept with which President Donald J. Trump is familiar. In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished -- but the people did not share in its wealth.” Under Trump, an even smaller group will flourish -- in particular, a cadre of former Goldman Sachs executives. To put the matter bluntly, two of them (along with the Federal Reserve) are likely to control our economy and financial system in the years to come.
Infusing Washington with Goldman alums isn’t exactly an original idea. Three of the last four presidents, including The Donald, have handed the wheel of the U.S. economy to ex-Goldmanites. But in true Trumpian style, after attacking Hillary Clinton for her Goldman ties, he wasn’t satisfied to do just that. He had to do it bigger and better. Unlike Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, just a sole Goldman figure lording it over economic policy wasn’t enough for him. Only two would do.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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