Saturday, February 04, 2017

'Populist' Is Just An Eight-Letter Word

"For the past two years," Charlie Pierce wrote this past week

we heard endless thumbsucking from the Brokaws of the world that Donald Trump was a different kind of Republican, that he was running a "populist" campaign, that he would "upend Republican orthodoxy." Because he couched it in barely veiled racism and xenophobia, enough of the suckers bought it to tip the election in his favor.

It went beyond the election, obviously.  Following President Trump's inaugural address,  Jake Tapper remarked "It was very consistent to the Trump brand, absolutely. I have to say, I think it’s fair to say this is one of the most radical inaugural speeches we’ve ever heard. It was purely populist. "  David Axelrod said "But look, this was a full-throated, as has been said, populist manifesto." Charles Krauthammer gushed" Well, I agree with the conclusion that this was probably the most classically populist speech we’ve ever heard from a president," one to be "remembered as the forgotten-man speech."

The print media was not immune from such breathlessness, with The Week maintaining "Trump struck a populist tone reminiscent of the themes of his campaign. 'This moment is your moment. It belongs to you,' he said. 'Jan. 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.'"

It will be remembered for something, but less likely as the revival of populism than for its deceptive, barnyard smell.  After meeting on Tuesday with pharmaceutical company executives, this "populist" abandoned his support for allowing Medicare to negotiate bulk drug prices with the industry, instead promising

I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.

So what I want, we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation and I want you to move your companies back into the United States. And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We're going to be lowering taxes, we're going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary.

The pharmaceutical companies are not the sole beneficiary of such largesse, for

With a swipe of his pen, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday started killing off a retirement advice rule that wealth managers from Wall Street to Wisconsin have spent the last six years lobbying against.

A landmark policy from the Obama era, the so-called fiduciary rule requires brokers and financial advisers to act in the best interest of retirement savers. This restricts their ability to earn commissions and to sell some higher-fee products.

Wall Street has argued it would harm consumers because it would raise compliance costs and therefore fees, and force them to get rid of Main Street clients and small businesses that offer 401(k) plans.

Trump’s executive order asks the Labor Department to review whether the rule needs to be changed or dumped

Those "forgotten men" whom Krauthammer discovered at age 66, as Pierce explains

will now be free to have their pensions swindled out from underneath them by sharpies whose bonuses depend on how much money they can steal. They will find themselves paying usurious interest rates on their credit cards because of a clause written in Swedish, in .00009 point type, on the back of their monthly statement. And then, when it all comes crashing down again, they'll have to look for somebody to blame, and it won't be them, and it won't be the charlatan they elevated to the White House. And someone else will run for president, and give them the proper scapegoat...

 It remains, nonetheless, undetermined how this will play in Peoria, short-term or long-term. But the outline of the Grump Administration remains clear. If Donald Trump is a populist, he also is an underweight, humble, self-identified celibate.

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