Of all the mistaken or cynically disingenuous characterisations of Donald Trump (and there are many from which to choose) ‘anti-elitist’ is perhaps the most obviously untrue.
Put aside his unusually wealthy cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires. Put aside his appointment of Goldman Sachs veterans to high-ranking posts, including treasury secretary, after promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of corporatists, like Hillary Clinton and her Goldman connections. You can even put aside, for the moment, his own personal and familial profiteering from the global business he continues to own. Focus simply on his policies.
First consider Trump’s opposition to consumer-friendly financial regulations enacted after the 2008 crash, particularly his effort to revoke an Obama administration rule requiring brokers to act in the best interests of their customers. Trump apparently wants financial advisers to have the freedom to serve their own interests, even at the expense of unsophisticated clients.
Then, consider his proposed budget. ‘If you’re a poor person in America, President Trump’s budget proposal is not for you’, the Washington Post correctly observes. His budget would not just cut deeply into a wide range of social-welfare programmes. It would also deny lower-income people access to justice by eliminating the Legal Services Corporation, which provides lawyers for poor people in civil cases, enabling them to vindicate their rights. Adding insult to industry, the Trump budget would ‘fall hardest on the rural and small-town communities that Trump won’, the Post reports. It ‘would slash or abolish programmes that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherising homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, (as well as) obtaining legal counsel in civil matters’.
It’s only fair to note that this budget would hurt affluent as well as lower-income Americans. It’s a threat to anyone who expects to become sick or disabled – in other words, everyone who expects to age. The National Institute of Health, which funds research into diseases that no one wants to suffer but many or most will, is slated to lose a fifth of its funding. Remember Trump’s inaugural promise to ‘free the Earth from the miseries of disease’? He, it seems, does not.