Despite the constant barrage of racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, even his detractors managed to hear--through all that hate speech--his promise to "drain the swamp." Trump tied the noose of Goldman Sachs around Ted Cruz's neck during the primary and never let anybody forget about Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to big banks during the general election. He demonized Wall Street and elitist politicians on the campaign trail and touted his support to repair America's crumbling infrastructure, but as so many of us expected, Donald Trump turned out to be a giant corporate conman.
Since becoming President, he has nominated the most corporate cabinet in US history since the Gilded Age. It includes multiple former Wall Street executives, who personally profited by launching missiles built by a company in which Trump has investments, and is now pushing an infrastructure plan which will allow private companies to take over government assets for private profit, paid for by American taxpayer. Oh yeah, and overseeing these efforts is none other than Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs and Trump's choice to head the National Economic Council. It must be noted that Cohn received a $285 million payout when leaving the firm to join the Trump Administration. Drain the swamp? Right.
Trump's infrastructure plan, despite being a major theme throughout his campaign, was released quietly as this brief six page document. It explains the desired goals of corporatizing airports, road construction, and other types of projects which the administration claims would streamline infrastructure projects and encourage spending by giving tax credits to private investors looking to build new projects or takeover existing ones. The plan even includes a section titled "Align Infrastructure Investment with Entities Best Suited to Provide Sustained and Efficient Investment," which is a lot of pseudo-academic mumbo-jumbo meaning they plan to slash the budgets of many government agencies and sell it off to the private sector, so their friends who run these giant corporations can make a profit.
Gary Cohn is one of those people who not only has a personal financial interest in Trump's plan but he also has a lot of friends with similar interests. In fact, Trump's plan is eerily similar to a strategy that Goldman Sachs sought and lobbied for as early as 2008 according to federal records reviewed by the International Business Times. Goldman has been pushing for a federal infrastructure package and has been developing specific financial tools to fit potential legislation so they can swoop in early and secure tax credits and start profiting from increased tolls and fees associated with some projects. Cohn has even said, "the bigger the thing you privatize, the more money we'll give you," as if his friends needed any more signals to start licking their chops.
If there was any doubt before whether Trump supporters have been taken in by a conman, there can be no more. Maybe it would be different if Gary Cohn was the only official with ties to Goldman Sachs in the administration. He is one of four major officials including the chief strategist for the White House, treasury secretary, and SEC chairman who all have tremendous power over economic policy, and who all stand to gain from this plan-by-association with a financial institution that has wreaked utter havoc on the American economy and middle class.
President Trump did a literal 180 from candidate Trump by hiring a plethora of former Goldman Sachs employees and then releasing an infrastructure plan from which they will directly profit. It is completely impossible to avoid the reality that America has been seduced by a corporate conman and is stuck with nothing more than an apparently bumbling and cruel oligarch-in-chief.
Clearly, We the People are looking for saviors in the wrong place--the ballot box. A democracy movement is required so the people can build power and take our place as the rightful sovereigns of this nation. Thomas Paine once said, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." The folks at Move to Amend are putting those words into action with our Campaign to Legalize Democracy. For over a century, big corporations have been rewriting the Constitution to gain rights intended only for human beings. Corporations have been so successful they have now become the government. Sign the Motion to Amend and help build the "democracy infrastructure movement" this country so badly needs.
Garrett Jennings is a Senior Intern with Move to Amend and a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he earned a degree in political science concentrating in public policy, with a minor in economics. Follow on Twitter: @GarrettJ8