Trump’s Bait and Switch

Donald Trump has portrayed himself as a billionaire for the common people but his early presidency has the look of a flock of plutocrats feathering their own nests, write Michael Winship and Bill Moyers.

By Michael Winship and Bill Moyers

Throughout the campaign and the transition period leading up to the Inauguration, whenever Donald Trump was caught lying or tweeting something outrageous we were told by his acolytes that we should ignore his words and instead pay attention to his deeds.

Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo credit: Grant Miller/RNC)

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s Queen of Bull, who has moved from campaign manager to White House counselor, actually has argued that what he says should not be taken literally, even telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “You always want to go with what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

Well, we’re journalists, not cardiologists but okay, by that standard, President Trump’s inaugural address was of a piece, much of it appealing to his core constituency — white workers and the middle class angry that they’ve been left out of the good times, as indeed they have been. But the speech was hollow rhetoric when compared to all the things Trump and his fledgling administration actually have done in just the last few weeks and hours.

“Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another,” Trump declared. “But we are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people… The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”

Fine, we’ll do as Kellyanne Conway recommends. Rather than heed the rhetoric we’ll look at his deeds and try to plumb the depths of his tiny heart. Truth is, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with many of the very elitists responsible for the plight of those everyday people he promised never to forget. The establishment he decried in his speech is front and center; six Goldman Sachs alumni alone already are in his administration, including Treasury Secretary-designate Steve Mnuchin, the man who parked a hundred million dollars in an offshore account and forgot to tell the Senate about it (we’re not making this up).

High IQ or Net Worth?

Trump bragged Thursday night about the collective high IQ of his Cabinet but the real number that’s troubling, as the website Quartz noted last month, is that the first 17 people he named to the Cabinet or Cabinet-ranking posts “have well over $9.5 billion in combined wealth. … This collection of wealth is greater than that of the 43 million least wealthy American households combined.”

Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross on CNN.

Let that sink in. Those first 17 people plucked by Trump to help him govern have more wealth “than over one-third of the 126 million households total in the US. Affluence of this magnitude in a US presidential Cabinet is unprecedented.”

How about billionaire Wilbur Ross firing an undocumented household staff member to avoid being embarrassed when Trump picked Ross as Secretary of Commerce? Could it be he suddenly developed an interest in immigration policy?

Or Labor Secretary-designate Andrew Puzder, CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, his profits built on cutting corners and paying workers the lowest wages possible. Unless he has suddenly developed the common touch, it’s not likely he’ll be a robust advocate for blue- and white-collar workers.

Or Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, whose confirmation hearings this past week revealed she knows almost nothing about public education — which, by the way, she doesn’t believe in — but whose lack of credentials pale in importance beside the more than $20 million she and her family have given to Republican candidates at the federal level, including many of the senators who will vote for her confirmation.

And how about Trump himself — stopping his inaugural parade to get out of his limousine in front of his DC hotel, of course — but so far failing to keep his promise last week that by Jan. 20 he would transfer complete control of his businesses? According to Pro Publica’s Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw, none of the required documents have been filed.

No time for that, apparently, but plenty of time during his first hours in office to eliminate a climate change page on the White House website and replace it with attacks on the “burdensome” regulation of the energy industry — exactly what the global warming giants of fossil fuel sought to achieve with their campaign contributions. The new president already has forgotten those ordinary people out there experiencing the erratic weather brought on by climate change, many of them watching the waters rise around their homes and small businesses. Perhaps Trump plans to build them an ark.

Hitting Homeowners

Speaking of everyday people: If you’re one of the homeowners struggling to make ends meet, some of the people Trump pledged in his inaugural address to defend, consider this as well: One of his first executive orders Friday suspended his predecessor’s plan to decrease insurance premiums on Federal Housing Administration mortgages, a move Obama intended to help stabilize the housing market. Congratulations — if you’re one of those mortgage holders, you’ve been Trumped!

Donald Trump speaking with supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“A punch in the gut to middle-class buyers” — that’s how it was described by Sarah Edelman, director of housing policy at the Center for American Progress. “With mortgage interest rates already on the rise, reversing the FHA’s move to cut insurance premiums in fact puts the dream of homeownership farther out of reach for millions of hardworking Americans.”

Contrast that cheapskate move with the money being spent on Trump’s big inaugural weekend. Nicholas Fandos at The New York Times reported last week that, “All told, the group planning the inaugural festivities says it has raised more than $100 million, which would be nearly double the record for an inauguration, with much of it coming in six- and seven-figure checks from America’s corporate suites.” That includes a million bucks from Boeing and half a million from Chevron. A small price to pay for the kind of influence and thinly veiled bribery that are sure to characterize the Trump years.

“We will make America wealthy again,” Trump bellowed in his speech — he just didn’t say that the wealth won’t be shared. Fact is, “the forgotten men and women of our country” whom Trump addressed in the speech don’t have a chance against the army of influence peddlers with whom the new president already has surrounded himself.

For example, it was announced on Thursday that 13 — yes, 13 — lawyers from the high-powered law firm of Jones Day will be moving to top positions in the administration, seven of them at the White House alone. It’s s “a ton of top jobs” for one Washington firm, as David Lat of the website Above the Law put it: “This is very good news for Jones Day and the lawyers remaining at the firm. It’s great for the firm’s prestige, and it also means that JD lawyers will be eagerly sought after by clients with issues pending before their former colleagues.” (italics added).

This must be what they mean by “draining the swamp” — they just divert it over to the White House.

Fabulous Wealth

A pall of contradiction hung over the whole ceremony Friday — between the rhetoric aimed at those millions of working people and middle-class Americans to whom Trump said he was talking and the fabulous wealth concentrated in his personal and official circles. Not once did he mention the words democracy, or equality, or even the Constitution.

Jesus of Nazareth delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted by artist Carl Bloch.

And while the clergy who offered prayers frequently invoked the names of God and Jesus, no one disturbed the official piety by reminding the privileged and powerful gathered around the new president that Jesus told his followers, “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Or had said to a certain rich young man: “You lack one thing. Sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Or had admonished his followers: “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.”

It wasn’t that kind of affair, of course. Instead, a few hours after the swearing-in, President Trump, in another of his first official acts, signed an executive order moving forward the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which could ultimately remove 18 to 32 million people from health insurance. Many of them presumably voted for Trump. Not a few may now need a miracle to survive.

By the way, according to Darren Samuelsohn at Politico, the end of the ACA would personally save our billionaire president “at least $6.7 million” in Medicare taxes.

Let us pray. After we march.

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and [This article first appeared at]

26 comments for “Trump’s Bait and Switch

  1. Joe Tedesky
    January 23, 2017 at 00:56
    • backwardsevolution
      January 23, 2017 at 02:50

      Joe – what a great link. Thanks for posting. Tulsi Gabbard is just the best. President Trump is lucky to have her advice. I hope he gives her some sort of position as he could really use her help.

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 23, 2017 at 11:03

        I’m glad you liked it, because as you know posting a link is such hard work….take care my friend Joe

  2. JayHobeSound
    January 22, 2017 at 19:39

    Trump’s regime is on track to have more generals than Pinochet and more oligarchs than Yeltsin.

    Trump is going to bend Americans over to be fisted by Big Business oligarchs and Wall Street money changers.

  3. David F., N.A.
    January 22, 2017 at 18:10

    I prefer to remember Moyers before Moyers and Company. Ever since he came back from his hiatus, some of his positions and guest choices had been partisan and questionable. And now he has clearly fallen victim to cacaCorporate Hollywood’s echo chamber (initiated by Comcast, Disney, Fox, Time Warner, CBS, Viacom, WP, NYT…). Just as it was designed, most of the nation has chosen a duopoly side. (Choose a side, any side. You can’t win if you don’t play.) Watching the goal post literally shifting to the right; the manufactured anger in the Democrats, today, reminds me of the manufactured anger of the Republicans, 16 years ago.

    Sure a lot of what Moyers says about Trump will probably come true, but what he’s blind to is that a lot of the same exact and similar bills and atrocities would have occurred under a HRC presidency.

    Occupy DC!

  4. backwardsevolution
    January 22, 2017 at 16:45

    “The new president already has forgotten those ordinary people out there experiencing the erratic weather brought on by climate change, many of them watching the waters rise around their homes and small businesses. Perhaps Trump plans to build them an ark.”

    The weather is always changing. In my neck of the woods, we just had one of the wettest falls on record, and then winter has been unbelievably cold (just what I remember winters being like when I was young).

    I have no doubt that man is causing much of this climate change. Kiza (in yesterday’s post) pointed out the terrible effects the military has on the atmosphere, and our cars, air conditioning, diesel trucks, air traffic just add more. Can you just imagine what would happen if the rest of the world functioned as we do? Get out the gas masks!

    But there are natural, cyclical changes in the climate as well. Ice ages and warming periods have occurred before, and man wasn’t around then. Who are you going to blame for that? Aliens? I mean, at any moment we could have a catastrophic volcano go off, fill the skies with ash for years (as has happened before), and bring us to the brink of starvation because of crop failure.

    I have no doubt that man is causing huge amounts of damage. But, you know, we can’t get enough, can we? Let’s bring in over a million more immigrants every year, all wanting to drive a car or have air conditioning, all wanting to be protected by the military, and see if that doesn’t cure us. We are our own worst enemies. Instead of having populations that can be sustained, we always want to tip the balance over to the other side. I know, let’s have more and more growth!!! That’ll cure us (not).

    And Wall Street is chomping at the bit to get into the business of issuing carbon credits. Whenever I see that, I know something is up. It’ll be another way for them to milk all of us. We’re slaughtering the wild animal populations. And in the end we’ll end up slaughtering ourselves because we can’t stop thinking that “more growth” is the answer.

    • January 24, 2017 at 02:17

      His supporters knew what he was going to do! They felt the same way when they watched Rocky and walked outside feeling like they once again could talk and treat people anyway they wanted to. They knew it was a made up character, but it gave them hope just like trump DID. ONCE AGAIN they hoped that A White man with power would bring the World to HEEL and BOW Down. Hell he so much as said so himself. If they don’t come to their senses,( Meaning, Bow Down.) Might is right. wink, wink.
      Only this not the world trump grew up in. It is 2017 and Might is not right. People want peace and equality. People should be able to provide for their basic needs for food , shelter, clothing and medical care when needed.
      Trump only sees his brown nose tip. He never carried about his supporters. Hell, he even called them DUMB. But the need to feel powerful and in control was so great they accepted being lied to and bullied. They keep talking about the middle white class white man. What of the Middle Class Black and Mexican families which had been in decline long before the decline of the White Middle class. Not to mention the Native Americans and other non-white middle class people. What f the poor Whites. Oh I forgot, they too feel they superior to non -whites even though their numbers are the highest on Welfare rolls. Trump used your fear and anger to rule over others and just like he left his wife at the bottom steps of the White House he has left you at the bottom of his bucket list.

  5. Ragnar Ragnarsson
    January 22, 2017 at 16:09

    “Let that sink in. Those first 17 people plucked by Trump to help him govern have more wealth “than over one-third of the 126 million households total in the US.”

    It would be more interesting to me to know how their wealth compares to the wealth of Congressmen and Senators. Or how the combined wealth of the Senate & Congress compares to the same “over 1/3 of households” demographic.

    The fact that a small number of billionaires and/or millionaires have more wealth than the lowest third of America isn’t really all that remarkable. Altho as an inflammatory statement, it’s great.

    I prefer to wait and see what actually happens in the next few months rather than rant and rave about those damn rich people ruling us before they’ve even done anything. Just to be clear, I don’t care much for big businessmen or lawyers, neither one. But given a choice, the fewer lawyers we have running things the better off we’ll probably be.

  6. Sam F
    January 22, 2017 at 14:25

    Almost certainly Trump will betray his supporters, and those not dumb enough to fall for more flag-waving and lord-praising will flock left in two or four years, only to be captured by more Dem fake liberals. If we cannot prevent that, there is no hope. We must always show the sad corruption of the Dems, and provide better alternatives in parties people believe in, which can form winning coalitions.

  7. Bill Bodden
    January 22, 2017 at 14:07

    Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Betsy DeVos, etc. Let’s not forget if these appointments prove to be the disasters their critics predict that the senate – “the world’s greatest deliberative body” – will be complicit.

  8. Patrick Lucius
    January 22, 2017 at 13:39

    The really big news is that the US is not imposing a no-fly zone in Syria this week. Or moving closer to ww3 in any other antagonistic and bullying way. I would remind: illegal coup in Ukraine (the impeachment vote fell short) where we guaranteed bank loans on 2nd day of the coup; destruction of Libya where we assisted Saudi and Qatar wahabbi extremism destroy a viable and vibrant country; immediate re-arming of Israel after Gaza civilian bombing; record-setting arms and jet sales to Saudi Arabia and provisions of intelligence and refueling in wahabbi bombing on Yemen civilians; comparison of Putin’s defensive protection of Crimea to Hitler’s offensive land grab. The human race may have dodged a bullet in this election. Survive first, then improve.

    • Ragnar Ragnarsson
      January 22, 2017 at 16:11

      Totally agree Patrick Lucius. Good points.

    • Bart in Virginia
      January 23, 2017 at 09:30

      Sadly, however, before leaving Obama failed to sneak Netanyahu’s name on the No Fly list.

  9. Chet Roman
    January 22, 2017 at 13:33

    The saddest thing about this rant is that it ignores the Obama administration’s hypocrisy and collaboration with the Wall Street and corporate parasites. Yes, much of what the authors state about Trump is true but it’s similar to the Obama regime only with a more rhetorically “liberal” facade. Essentially, we have a one-party system committed and obedient to predatory neoliberal capitalism. Wars, wealth inequality, unconstitutional surveillance, too large to prosecute banks have all increased under the “liberal” Obama administration.

    I’m all for pointing out the failings of Trump and his wealthy neoliberal cabinet but the authors should focus on the corrupted system that is dysfunctional under both parties. In some ways the election of Trump is a blessing. Maybe it will wake up the Democrats to return to their populist roots and discard their obedience to neoliberal corporate interests. Unfortunately, I’m not very hopeful since the first thing the Democrats did after losing the election was to appoint dinosaurs like Pelosi and Schumer to leadership positions. What does it take for them to learn? They lost the House, Senate, the majority of state houses and now the presidency. And their response is to blame everything and everyone but themselves and appoint old hacks to leadership positions.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 22, 2017 at 21:40

      I feel the same as you do, Chet.

    • KB Gloria
      January 23, 2017 at 11:55

      I’ve wanted for that for a too long while now, and I don’t believe the Dems will do it; they have become far too entrenched–Independents need to bring it on.

  10. Zachary Smith
    January 22, 2017 at 13:32

    Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s Queen of Bull, who has moved from campaign manager to White House counselor, actually has argued that what he says should not be taken literally, even telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “You always want to go with what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

    I’m going to dispute both of these choices – my primary interest is what Donald Trump actually does.

    I’ll agree that stuffing the Cabinet with billionaires looks bad, and the end result may turn out … badly. And it may not. Why not wait and see? There will be plenty of time to talk about the crap Trump does after he has really done it. This same reasoning applies to the wondrous Affordable Care Act, the Corporate Medical care system Obama dumped on us instead of the Single Payer he promised. Wait And See!

    Education and Betsy DeVos: the woman is surely a piece of work, but I’d remind the authors that the Democrats were doing the very same things. Oh, they were more sober and deliberate and “respectable”, but they were doing the same things.

    Speaking of everyday people: If you’re one of the homeowners struggling to make ends meet, some of the people Trump pledged in his inaugural address to defend, consider this as well: One of his first executive orders Friday suspended his predecessor’s plan to decrease insurance premiums on Federal Housing Administration mortgages, a move Obama intended to help stabilize the housing market.

    I know so little about this issue that I may have been looking for the wrong things with my google search, but here is what I believe I found:

    Jan. 20 (UPI) — One of the first orders of business for President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday was to suspend a scheduled insurance rate cut for new homeowners, which was set by Barack Obama’s government earlier this month.

    The proposed cut would have reduced annual insurance premiums for new Federal Housing Administration loans, closed after Jan. 26, by 25 basis points — from 0.85 to 0.60. The move was hailed by some experts concerned about rising insurance rates for homeowners.

    The Obama administration ordered the reduction on Jan. 9.

    Jan. 9.! If it was such a great thing, why did Saint Obama wait so long to do it? Or was this just another of the traps he set and minefields he laid for Trump?

    • Bill Bodden
      January 22, 2017 at 14:04

      I’m going to dispute both of these choices – my primary interest is what Donald Trump actually does.

      Fair point, Zachary, but don’t forget the warnings that come with the warranty-free product. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

    • backwardsevolution
      January 22, 2017 at 16:10

      Zachary – yep, January 9th!

      “The FHA sells insurance to protect against defaults and doesn’t issue mortgages. It is a popular program among first-time home buyers because it allows borrowers to make a down payment of as low as 3.5 percent with a credit score of 580, on a scale of 300 to 850.”


      “…we would be very concerned about the state of the US housing market if $500/year is all it takes to swing one’s decision in favor of buying a house, and as such would be even more concerned about the pain awaiting the FHA, which was already bailed out once after the last financial crisis.

      As a reminder, following the housing crash, the FHA came under severe stress and in 2013 it received $1.7 billion from the U.S. Treasury, its first bailout in 79 years, due to a wave of defaults. To replenish the FHA’s coffers, the Obama administration several times increased the fees the agency charges. The law requires the FHA’s capital reserve ratio to stay above 2 percent, and the agency hit that level in 2015 for the first time since the bailout.”

      So FHA was bailed out by the U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $1.7 billion! And several times Obama increased the fees himself.

      “…given the FHA approves loans at lower credit scores and lower down payments than the private market, FHA loans ought to reflect that risk and have higher interest rates than the private market. Taxpayers bear this risk.” In other words, another government subsidy. We agree with his conclusion: ‘Government ought not be involved in housing at all. The FHA is best shut down.”

      Whenever you prop up extremely marginal buyers, you run the risk of billion dollar bailouts, which do nothing but transfer their risk onto the backs of the taxpayers. You’d be doing these people a big favor if instead you said to them, “Work hard, save your money, get a good down payment. Go into as little debt as possible.”

      These programs are never brought in for the benefit of these marginal buyers. Never! These programs are instigated because of huge lobbies from the real estate/banking industries who say, “Make it easy for anyone who can scratch an X to get into the housing industry. Have the taxpayers backstop them. That way we don’t lose. During the next downturn, of course these marginal buyers will go down, but who cares. We’ll just take their houses back and resell them. No loss for us, but a lot of upside because we get to issue new loans, we get commission from sales.” Etc.

      IF these marginal first-time home buyers just stepped out of the market for awhile, if they weren’t enticed by these programs which do not in the end help them, real estate prices would fall. Now, who would benefit from that? They would. Imagine getting helped into a $300,000.00 loan which you can barely afford versus no help, but getting the house for $200,000.00. That’s a much better deal for the marginal buyers.

      The quotes are from an article at Zero Hedge entitled, “One Hour After Taking Office, Trump Suspends FHA Mortgage Fee Cut”.

      • Ragnar Ragnarsson
        January 22, 2017 at 16:18

        Wait a minute!! There are too many facts in there!!! LOLOL

        Good job!

    • KB Gloria
      January 23, 2017 at 11:52

      Wow–you are pulling a little bait and switch yourself, there ZS. We are told to wait and see–give the poor guy a chance–so we did (not like we had a bloody choice in the matter) and now we are being admonished that, yes, it looks bad, but you just never know how things are going to turn out. Yeah, right–I think we have a pretty damn good idea. And I though the Republicans taking office set such a fabulous gold standard of their own that you would not have to resort to the school ground accusation: b-b-b-b-but the Democrats did it, too!

      • backwardsevolution
        January 24, 2017 at 02:25

        KB Gloria – and you would rather impeach or tar and feather the man because you what, think you have “a pretty damn good idea”? Have a little restraint and patience.

    • feather brighteyes
      January 23, 2017 at 21:38

      Well if you had of read about the whole thing and further you would have found out why it took so long, instead of only looking for some reason to pardon what Trump did and put it all off on Obama. And no I dont care for Obama but I know why it took so long fot this to come about and why it even happened in the first place, which you can trace back to Bush. If you are going to get on here and spittle. why not make sure you have read all the issues before you speak. Being ill-informed and then doing a rant makes one look rather foolish.

    • rosemerry
      January 24, 2017 at 17:13

      Just like the magical non-veto on a UNSC Resolution critical of Israel. I well remember Election Day 2008 when the IDF killed 6 Palestinians in Gaza and broke the truce which had lasted many months. As the tension built up and Operation Cast Lead continued right up to Obama’s inauguration, not ONE word of criticism did we hear, just “one President at a time” and the IDF carnage suddenly ceased (for a time) in Gaza on January 20, 2009.
      So many of Obama’s admired actions were absent, too little or too late, and his “picks” for Cabinet ( or Citibank picks, according to the Podesta email trove) were just as bad as those Trump has so far.

  11. J'hon Doe II
    January 22, 2017 at 13:03

    Another cut-out from Jack London’s 1906 novel, “Before Adam”, that fits Mr. Trump to a T.

    “As I, my real self, grew older, I entered more and more into the substance of my dreams. One may dream, and even in the midst of the dream be aware that he is dreaming, and if the dream be bad, comfort himself with the thought that it is only a dream. This is a common experience with all of us. And so it was that I, the modern, often entered into my dreaming, and in the consequent strange dual personality was both actor and spectator. And right often have I, the modern, been perturbed and vexed by the foolishness, illogic, obtuseness, and general all-round stupendous stupidity of myself, the primitive.”

    • J'hon Doe II
      January 22, 2017 at 13:29

      Quote from above;

      “Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another,” Trump declared. “But we are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people… The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”

      Jack London and Science Fiction
      By Clarice Stasz, Ph.D.

      London explored numerous styles of science fiction: pre-history, apocalyptic catastrophe, future war, scientific dystopias, technocratic utopias.

      Running through most stories are the ideas of social evolution, racialism, and anti-capitalism. In some stories, London emphasizes “social science fiction,” the problems of society, particularly the exploitation of workers and the materialism of capitalism.

      By positing extreme cases of social order or disorder, he hopes to convey how human suffering based in economic inequality may be eliminated. In other cases, his imaginary societies were meant to demonstrate the validity of Social Darwinism with its emphasis upon the rise of the superior Anglo-Saxon race.

Comments are closed.