WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump announced a 13-member economic advisory team on Friday and the list is … well, it’s a lot of rich guys, five of whom are named Steve. And for the most part, it’s a team of major Republican donors ― the very “establishment” that Trump so often rails against on the campaign trail and who back the policies Trump blames for destroying the country.
The biggest name on the team is hedge fund kingpin John Paulson, who has long been a top Republican donor. Paulson was a key instigator in the infamous Goldman Sachs “ABACUS” trade, in which Goldman bet against its own clients, then paid $550 million to settle fraud charges with the SEC. The agency opted against pursuing charges against Paulson, who now serves on AIG’s board of directors, which is priceless. Let’s remember that Trump trashed Hillary Clinton at a rally this week for accepting money from hedge funders, telling the crowd he didn’t want hedge fund money and if he received any, he’d send it back.
Other names on the list are part of the traditional A-list of GOP money men.
David Malpass worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations before moving to Bear Stearns. He wrote a Wall Street Journal column telling people not to worry about the American economy in August 2007. This was right after two Bear Stearns hedge funds collapsed and a few months before Bear Stearns itself had to be rescued by the government. In 2010, he ran for Senate in New York and lost.
Steve Roth runs the real estate fund Vornado and bundled over $230,000 for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Harold Hamm is a shale oil magnate who gave nearly $1 million to a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC in 2012. Steve Feinberg helms Cerberus Capital Management, a major (and notoriously secretive) private equity firm that has hired such renegade populists as former Vice President Dan Quayle and former Bush Treasury Secretary Jon Snow.
Stephen Moore has been a Republican economic talking head for decades, always advocating for lower taxes, deregulation and free trade. He auditioned for jobs with Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul early in the cycle.
Tom Barrack was a personal lawyer for Richard Nixon who worked in the Reagan administration. He also raised $32 million for a pro-Trump super PAC called Rebuilding America Now.
Funny how he just happens to land a job as an adviser to Trump after that. If you were under the impression that Trump is self-financing his campaign, he is not.
These are, in other words, mostly people who have backed traditional Republican policies: tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and free trade. Trump changes his policy commitments almost daily, but he has consistently attacked free trade and supported reinstating the Glass-Steagall law to break up big banks in the Republican Party platform.
They’re also people who have spent years supporting GOP candidates that Trump is feuding with ― Romney, McCain, Cruz, Paul.
That isn’t to say there aren’t some other more unorthodox names on the list. Andy Beal is a real estate investor who also fancies himself a number theorist and offers prizes to people who can prove or disprove his ideas. Steven Mnuchin is a Goldman Sachs alum who gives heavily to both Republicans and Democrats. Peter Navarro teaches business at the University of California, Irvine, but is best known for several very critical books about China and a polemical 2012 documentary, “Death By China.”
Dan DiMicco recently published a book called American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us To Greatness, which is generally well regarded, even if it sounds pretty Trumpy. DiMicco was CEO of Nucor, an American steel company that made a lot of money and didn’t offshore jobs in the 21st century, which is frankly pretty impressive.
Tobacco magnate Howard Lorber ― who generally supports Democrats ― and banker Stephen M. Calk round out the list of advisers.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump