Last week, CNN uncovered Donald Trump’s 2006 remarks about how he wanted to profit off of a housing bubble:
I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy. You know if you’re in a good cash position, which I’m in a good cash position today, then people like me would go in and buy like crazy. If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you could make a lot of money.
If you think “I sort of hope that happens” is too equivocal to suggest Trump wanted the housing market to collapse, he removed all doubt in a 2007 interview:
People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I’m excited if it is. I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.
Trump responded that he eagerness to profit off of other people’s misery is a feature, not a bug: “…this is the kind of thinking our country needs, understanding how to get a good result out of a very bad and sad situation,. Politicians have no idea how to do this – they don’t have a clue.”
Wrong. Politicians, good ones at least, work on divining public policy solutions that can help everyone recovery from a “bad and sad situation.” Something like a “Recovery Act” that invests in hundred of billions in infrastructure, clean energy and education to create jobs and reverse an economic downturn … just to give you a hypothetical example.
Trump has never done anything of the sort. His self-stated expertise is winning a zero-sum game of capitalism so he can profit off of the misery of others.
Trump has long tried to neutralize attacks on his selfishness: “My whole life, I have been greedy, greedy, greedy” he says, “But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money.”
But why should we believe his greedy impulses would benefit everyone in the United States?
Again, Trump sees everything through a zero-sum lens, it just takes on a nationalist veneer when he’s on the stump: he wants to “grab” money from other countries, slap a steep tariff on China, make Mexico pay for a wall, take Iraqi oil, make other countries pay more for their national security.
But who exactly would reap the windfall?
The resurgent focus on income inequality stems from the fact that the gains from the initial recovery mostly went to the top one percent. Trump brags about sucking the wealth from the lower-income to line his own pockets, and nothing in his stated policies suggests a Trump administration would be any different.