President Elect Donald Trump's so-called economic team is actually comprised of his fellow Wall Street predators and silver spoons, who have a history of enriching themselves at the expense of the poor and faltering middle class.
It's typical for members of presidential economic teams to have PhDs in economics. However, Steven Mnuchin (above left) and Wilbur Ross (above right) don't appear to have a single degree in economics of any kind between them.
Mnuchin, 53, is set to become Treasury Secretary. Ross, 79, is set to become Commerce Secretary. Neither has any notable experience as an economist in either academia or government service. Both have close ties to Wall Street's secretive Kappa Beta Phi fraternity, a group of financial professionals which appears to champion the idea that a person's value is directly and solely proportional to their familial wealth.
“So much for draining the swamp," Adam Hodge, communications director of the Democratic National Committee, said of the appointments. They contradict Trump's campaign promise to challenge DC's increasingly inbred and over-entitled political establishment, which is sometimes referred to as "the swamp."
Mnuchin and Ross are both members of Wall Street's increasingly inbred and over-entitled financial establishment. They're silver spoons and graduates of elite prep schools, just like Trump. They also have supported both Democrat and Republican candidates - sometimes in the same races. Just like the President-elect.
Ross and Mnuchin have contributed to Trump and the Clintons.
Trump said Ross’ role would be “reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources." That's code for selling out the middle class to the rapacious banking and energy industries.
Munchin's foremost goal is to reduce the tax rate for corporations from 35 percent to 15 percent. The official rationale is that this reduction will convince the ultra-rich to start paying their share of our government's expenses again, instead of hiding their money overseas. Of course, that was also the rationale when it was reduced from 52.8 Percent in 1969.
If earlier corporate tax reductions had worked as promised there would not be $2.5 trillion waiting offshore for Trump and his Kappas.
It didn't work then and it's not going to work now. What this gift to the rich will do is shift the cost of our government further onto the shoulders of the poor and middle class. While the 1 Percent retains control of it.
Ross and Mnuchin are the proverbial powers behind the throne. Influence peddlers who have found a way to lift themselves above financial regulation by assuming control of the agencies overseeing our financial system.
Ross is being tabbed to take over the U.S. Commerce Department, which is supposed to be above even a whiff of impropriety. Even though he paid $2.3 million in August to settle a probe into his company’s misappropriation of fees by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
By establishing themselves as the heads of Commerce and Treasury, Ross and Mnuchin eliminate several layers of political "middle men" in our pay-to-play government. Persons they they might otherwise have to "influence."
My hunch is that Mnuchin and Ross would have had just as much influence in a Clinton administration. Albeit, further behind the scenes.
The decision by these money-men to step out of the shadows suggests that Wall Street is about to go on the rampage. At the expense of everyone else.
It's a tangible illustration of the 1 Percent's utter contempt for the poor and middle class they have waged economic war against for the past 30 years.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), said Mnuchin “managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street” during his lengthy financial career.
“His selection as Treasury secretary should send shivers down the spine of every American who got hit hard by the financial crisis," said Warren, author of the Fragile Middle Class. It's "the latest sign that Donald Trump has no intention of draining the swamp and every intention of running Washington to benefit himself and his rich buddies."
Mnuchin and Ross are the kind of high-risk folks who have been trying to tie the poor and middle class into forms of debt slavery via schemes like for-profit college, offshoring, broken pension promises, pay-day lending, reverse mortgages, foreclosure fraud, and predatory mortgage lending. They and their friends gave us The Great Recession and then bailed themselves out at the expense of the poor and middle class.
Mnuchin attended the exclusive and expensive Riverdale Country Day School in New York City.
He was an undergraduate at Yale University, but does not identify his degree, which means it was probably something soft and easy. He's worth $40 billion and was a partner for 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where his father worked before him. Afterward, he became a hedge fund predator.
Mnuchin owned a mortgage lender which used reverse mortgages to take old people's homes. It foreclosed on them at double the average national rate for such transactions, earning him the infamous "Foreclosure King" nickname.
In 2009, a New York judge described his company's behavior as "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive'' in trying to foreclose on one family. He described its business practices as“inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious..
That's legalese for "scumbag."
Ross is worth less than Mnuchin - with a fortune estimated at $2.9 billion. He also has an unidentified BA from Yale College, which was his father's alma mater. Meaning he was a legacy who probably chose an easy undergraduate degree instead of economics.
There is no other reason to conceal the degree.
Ross' biography suggests he hoped to become a fiction writer at Yale, but "ran out of ideas." Translation: Writing is a tough way to make money and he wasn't willing to work that hard.
Ross obtained an MBA at Harvard Business School. Which is a good degree, but not an economics degree. His main claim to fame is that he was the banker who let Trump keep his three failed casinos in Atlantic City in the early 1990s when the president-elect was more than $3 billion in debt.
Trump is now repaying that debt.
Ross is so sheltered from the painful realities of life outside the privilege bubbles that he actually said "the 1 Percent is being picked on for political reasons" in 2014. The son of a judge then offered advice to the rest of us on how to get out of the ghetto.
Get an education.
Presumably one paid for by mummy and daddy, just like his.
One which doesn't entail starting your career with $200,000 in student loan debt at 6 percent interest and hoping your field doesn't get automated or off-shored by his friends in the infamous Kappa Beta Phi club. The secret fraternity of rich jackasses was founded near the end of The Great Depression.
Its the financial equivalent of a white supremacist group. One devoted to deriving schadenfreude from the suffering of those with less familial wealth, rather than those with more melanin.
Munhcin is not a member of Kappa Beta Phi, but his father is. As is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomerg, who turned the New York Police Department loose on the peaceful demonstrators of Occupy Wall Street in 2011-2012 to protect the financial interests of his Wall Street buddies.
Former New York Times Reporter Kevin Roose described Kappa Beta Phi's 2012 party as a gathering of the financial executives who collectively wrecked the global economy in 2008 and 2009. One in which they used comedic skits to express their pride in the 1 Percent and contempt for the poor and faltering middle class.
"They were laughing off the entire disaster in private, as if it were a long-forgotten lark," Roose said, "These were activities that amounted to a gigantic middle finger to Main Street and that, if made public, could end careers and damage very public reputations."
Roose got a firsthand look at Ross in 2012 during the annual shindig in Manhattan. The future Commerce Secretary and fellow silver spoon Alexandra Lebenthal escorted the journalist out of the exclusive St. Regis Hotel once he was identified as an outsider.
"Once we made it to the lobby, Ross and Lebenthal reassured me that what I’d just seen wasn’t really a group of wealthy and powerful financiers making homophobic jokes, making light of the financial crisis, and bragging about their business conquests at Main Street’s expense," Roose wrote. "No, it was just a group of friends who came together to roast each other in a benign and self-deprecating manner. Nothing to see here."
Ross and Lebenthal offered to help Roose in his future endeavors if he would suppress the incredible arrogance and entitlement he witnessed that night.
Ross offered himself up as a source for future stories in exchange for Roose's cooperation.
“I’ll pick up the phone anytime, get you any help you need,” Ross said in a blatant offer to exchange access for positive coverage.
“Yeah, the people in this group could be very helpful,” Lebenthal chimed in. “If you could just keep their privacy in mind.”
This is what Roose made of the experience:
"The first and most obvious conclusion was that the upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality," he said. "No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles. Not when those foibles had resulted in real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis."
Ross has made big money buying struggling companies in the steel, textiles, auto parts and coal industries and restructuring them in ways that result in big layoffs and abandoned pension obligations. He views himself as a self-made man, even though his father was a judge who sent him to a series of very expensive private schools.
To their credit, Ross and Mnuchin are fearless guys. Just like their buddy Donald Trump.
They've hurt a lot of their fellow Americans to enrich themselves and their fellow economic royals, and seem poised to hurt a lot more. Self sacrifice for the greater good is not something the Kappa Beta Phis are known for.
Unless you count playing dress up at high society charity balls and serving on the boards of rich kid schools like Riverdale Country Day School.
These three rich fools are betting with their own lives that no one in this nation of 322 million souls has any appetite for revolution. They clearly believe that there is not one American with the capacity and desire to turn any of this country's 360 million firearms against them.
How do they know?
Well, they've never been hurt before. Never had to walk a dangerous street alone. Ergo, they're invulnerable.
There's no arguing with that kind of logic, which is so similar to the cavalier attitude embraced by those who have never been hit by a hurricane.
These rich fools must know something I don't about firearms and human nature. Cause stepping to the front like this seems like pure suicide to me, at least from an actuarial standpoint.
These paper tough guys would be far safer cruising behind the scenes as they have in the past, particularly at a time of increasing desperation for the poor and middle class.
I wish I shared their blissful ignorance of the sometimes brutal America I inhabit, because their appointments truly make me fear for my life as a working class Jew.
Ross and Mnuchin have the kind of backgrounds anti-Semites habitually cite as proof of the existence of a mythical Jewish banking conspiracy to rule the world.
When the crazies get started killing Jews over the ruthless actions of such financiers they historically target poor and working class Jews instead. It's death by group association with members of a country club set I neither identify with nor admire.
Mnuchin is Jewish. Ross is not. However, he was executive managing director of Rothschild Inc., the U.S. affiliate of the Rothschild family’s merchant banking group, when he bailed Trump out.
The Rothschilds are the Jewish banking family most closely associated with global Jewish conspiracy theories. One whose financial machinations have probably contributed to the deaths of millions of poor and working class Jews in Europe.
Ross appears to be Christian. He attended an elite Catholic prep school and was married in an Episcopal church.
I view his claim on his bio that he drove two hours a day to attend Xavier High School in Manhattan" as a kind of defining thing.
Because it doesn't take two hours to drive to Manhattan from his childhood home in Weehawken, N.J., and it's pretty unlikely he was driving himself as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Such routine exaggerations suggest he may have a problem with the truth. Just like the political hookers who abound in our nation's capital and equate half truths and sins of omission with personal integrity.
It's difficult to think of two people on the planet with more contempt for the poor and middle class than Ross, and Munchin. Or two people who are more likely to get me killed through their high-handed actions and rhetoric. With the possible exception of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire financier Leon Black, who controls the Apollo Global Management private equity firm.
Trump seems hellbent on proving that the poor and middle class are gutless cowards the rich should insult, exploit and abuse at will.
Paddy Power, Ireland's biggest online bookmaker, placed the odds of Barack Obama being assassinated while in office as low as 12-1 during his presidency. You have to believe they will be even lower once Trump and his team of financial pirates assume office.
Personally, I hope Trump survives. I don't think he and his country club friends are particularly bright, beyond their ability to count zeros, but I have no desire to see another dead president in a country I still kinda love.
That said, I really doubt this kind of garbage is not going to fly in a desperate nation where 22 vets are already taking their own lives every day.
This is not the time for the rich fools of Kappa Beta Phi to show the rest of us their well fed asses.