How Trump is boosting Wall Street, not Main Street

President Donald Trump meets with business leaders Friday before signing an executive directive to review the Dodd-Frank law, enacted after the 2008 financial crash.
President Donald Trump meets with business leaders Friday before signing an executive directive to review the Dodd-Frank law, enacted after the 2008 financial crash. The Associated Press

Do you want to suffer through another Great Recession and housing crash?

We don’t, either.

But in their zeal to rip up Barack Obama’s legacy and to please Wall Street, President Donald Trump and his inner circle appear willing to risk a repeat. Issuing yet another directive, Trump said he expects to cut many of the rules passed after the 2008 financial meltdown to help prevent another.

You couldn’t blame his working-class backers, struggling to pay their mortgages, if they choked on their cereal when Trump declared Friday he wants to redo the complex Dodd-Frank law because it makes it more difficult for some of his wealthy friends to get loans.

It’s easy to get distracted by Trump’s latest Twitter tantrum (such as the one Monday about polls showing disapproval of his travel ban being fake) or his most recent outrageous falsehood (such as accusing the media of not covering terrorist attacks).

But we can’t lose sight of the sweeping policy changes he and the Republican majority in Congress are trying to slam through, from ending Dodd-Frank to repealing Obama administration environmental rules that protect streams from the impact of coal mining and limit venting of natural gas wells on federal lands to cut carbon emissions.

And we can’t ignore the core campaign promises that Trump is already breaking.

As a candidate, Trump railed against Wall Street and its power over Washington. As president, he has packed his administration with executives from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street firm that he said had “total control” over Hillary Clinton and that paid a $5 billion settlement last year to resolve claims that it misled investors about its mortgage-backed securities.

Trump is doing pretty much what Wall Street CEOs want. The Dodd-Frank directive also opens the door to getting rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which helped expose the huge fraud Wells Fargo perpetrated on 2 million customers. The bureau imposed a $185 million fine on the bank.

In addition, Trump signed a memo to reverse a rule, set to take effect in April, that would require retirement advisers to look out for their clients ahead of their own profits. That seems like common sense, but Wall Street and its allies oppose the rule.

Democrats in Congress and in Sacramento are justified in their blistering criticism. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Monday that Trump and “his billionaire Cabinet have abandoned Main Street to enable Wall Street’s corrosive profiteering.”

State Treasurer John Chiang says that Trump has revealed himself as “a handmaiden for Wall Street bankers.” He pledges to fight any efforts to do away with Dodd-Frank and other financial protections.

California was a center of the mortgage meltdown. The wreckage is still with us. While foreclosures have declined nationwide, 10 percent of homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages. And despite the economic recovery, many Americans are still in dire straits – in California’s Central Valley, the Rust Belt in the Midwest and other pockets of poverty.

Maybe the next time he holds a press conference – whenever that is – Trump can explain how unshackling Wall Street financiers will improve the lives of the workers he claims to put first.