When President Trump revealed the broad strokes of his plan for tax reform on April 26th, he did not address the nation personally. Instead, he had two of his staff brief the press. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin was joined by a man named Gary Cohn to present the outline of the president’s plan on taxes. Mr. Cohn is no friend of the working man, however. His presence at that podium is cause for concern for libertarians and conservatives alike.
Gary Cohn serves as the Director of the National Economic Council, which places him near the top of the food chain within the Trump administration. To put his position in perspective, his counterpart on the National Security Council is the National Security Advisor, General McMaster. Cohn reportedly has a tremendous amount of access to the president and is part of his so-called inner circle. In addition to having Trump’s ear, he also exercises considerable influence over Jared Kushner, according to The Hill.
Kushner’s name is much more recognizable than Cohn’s, yet the two men have a remarkable amount in common with each other. Both are lifelong Democrats. Both fall far to the left of most of the other members of Trump’s administration. Both men donated Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign. Disturbingly, Cohn has embraced a position on regulations shared enthusiastically by Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), which suggests that Kushner is not far behind. The liberal element within the Trump administration appears to be advancing in power while helping to diminish the establishment conservative and populist wings.
Remember during the presidential campaign when then-candidate Trump excoriated Hillary Clinton for her ties to Wall Street? He specifically made an issue of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, for which she was paid an absurd amount of money. Trump argued that Clinton would be in Wall Street’s pocket. So thank goodness Clinton did not end up winning the election and doing something crazy like, I don’t know, appointing the president of Goldman Sachs as a principal advisor and policy maker within her administration. Oh wait, that is exactly what Trump did instead – because up until a few months ago, Gary Cohn was the president of Goldman Sachs.
Why did Cohn leave his job where he was making over $20 million a year to come and work for the government? Was it out of the kindness of his heart? On the contrary, his future at Goldman looked stagnant. According to Bloomberg, he was not under serious consideration for promotion to the coveted CEO position due to his “abrasive style and appetite for risk.” Now that he is part of the administration, he will be able to make himself wealthy through legislative changes.
Cohn is a quintessential globalist. During the lead-up to the Brexit vote, he argued that it was “imperative that the U.K. stay in the E.U.,” according to The Telegraph. Additionally, Cohn was involved in trying to broker a deal for Greece during their financial crisis. His plan essentially amounted to obscuring debt and kicking the can even farther down the road. The economic solution he suggested was akin to taking a second mortgage to pay off your credit cards. In other words, he has a track record for having a total disregard for the problems that sovereign debt can cause, and believes the solution is simply to fight borrowing with more borrowing. This globalist, fiscal liberal is not the kind of man we want advising the president.
According to Axios, Cohn is on the short list to be the next Chief of Staff. This development is extremely alarming to anyone who was hoping for a populist or libertarian agenda from the Trump administration. With Steve Bannon already on the decline and Kellyanne Conway nowhere to be found, the populist component within the White House is already being marginalized. And folks on the right are beginning to worry. If Reince Priebus is removed from his position and replaced with Cohn, the conservative wing of the administration will be dealt a major blow. If Cohn continues to consolidate power along with Jared Kushner, this administration is going to start looking awfully like a Democratic one when it comes to fiscal responsibility.