The things that come out of President Trump's mouth seem to depend on who he talks to or what he sees on TV in the minutes immediately preceding his mouth motion.
Based on his recent switchbacks, Trump has been spending a LOT of time talking to the alums of Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs who now form his inner circle.
"Changed His Tone"
Trump has reversed himself on policy after policy, sometimes days or even hours after reaffirming positions he then reversed. The New York Times describes this phenomenon:
But Mr. Trump has changed his tone and backtracked on pledges and policies he supported days earlier. The shift suggests that the moderate financiers of Wall Street brought to the White House are eclipsing the populists led by Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief political strategist.
The Washington Post's Daily 202, written for DC-area insiders, describes this new direction as "Trump’s lurch toward corporatism, globalism."
● He reversed his position on NATO, saying, “It was once obsolete; it is no longer obsolete.”
● He reversed his position on labeling China as a currency manipulator, after saying last week that China is “the world champion” of currency manipulation.
● He reversed his position on Fed Chair Janet Yellen, after having said she and other "global special interests" had ruined life for middle America.
● He reversed his position on interest rates, saying “I do like a low-interest-rate policy, I must be honest with you.”
● He reversed his position on the Export-Import Bank, saying now, “It turns out that… lots of small companies are really helped!”
Why all these sudden switches?
A Goldman Sachs Administration
Most of these reversals bring Trump's positions as president nicely in line with the interests of Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce and the giant investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Is it just a coincidence that this comes after Trump has lined his administration with former Goldman Sachs executives? Headline after headline explains that Trump has hired "yet another" veteran of the firm.
One of the latest, with very high influence, is Gary Cohn, Goldman's former President and CEO, now chairman of the National Economic Council. According to Mother Jones, Cohn left Goldman with "an estimated $285 million severance package."
Damian Paletta at The Washington Post writes about Cohn capturing Trump's ear:
The growing strength of Cohn and like-minded moderates was on display this week as Trump reversed himself on several high-profile issues - including a less confrontational approach to China, an endorsement of government subsidies for exports and the current leadership of the Federal Reserve. The president’s new positions move him much closer to the views of Cohn and others on Wall Street, not to mention mainstream Republicans and Democrats.
It was the clearest sign yet that an alliance of moderates in the White House - including Cohn; senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and another influential Goldman Sachs alumnus, Dina Powell - is racking up successes in a battle over ideology and control with hardcore conservatives led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who held sway at the start of the administration.
Goldman Sachs? You might remember (or tried to forget but haven't yet) how Trump reviled their influence in his now-notorious "closing" TV ad. It featured images of Wall Street, stock tickers, Lloyd Blankfein, the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, and financier-philanthropist George Soros.
In the ad, Trump says ominously:
It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.
That was then. It worked; he got the votes.
This is now. Yes, Goldman Sachs.
Why does this matter? Matt Taibbi's great 2010 article for Rolling Stone described how Goldman Sachs manipulates our economy for the benefit of its executives and investors. The Great American Bubble Machine begins,
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
Taibbi includes the warning,
...a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.
And so here we are.