Donald Trump has appointed one of the most corrupt and senior members of Goldman Sachs, Steven Mnuchin, to the position of Secretary of the Treasury – the same Goldman Sachs who paid Clinton the speaking fees which Trump so roundly condemned. But who is Steven Mnuchin anyway?
Donald Trump campaigned as the “change candidate” who was willing to “drain the swamp” of Washington. Naturally this appealed to many working class people who are, rightly, furious at the abuses and excesses of Wall Street. Clinton, on the other hand, couldn’t shake her image as a pawn of the banking industry as she raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs and others.
During this election cycle both Presidential candidates were portrayed in the media as dramatically different from one another. It is clear, however, how similar Clinton and Trump truly are. Just a few months ago, Trump criticized Clinton for being corrupt and deserving of prison.
A life of obscene wealth
Steven Mnuchin was born into a kind of wealth and privilege that the vast majority of people will never experience. He was born the son of Robert Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs banker, and Elaine Cooper, the vice president of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Steven and his brother Alan, both of whom appear to be as predictable as they are wealthy, also joined Goldman Sachs.
It is important to understand that this individual has never had to make the hard choices many of us have had to face, such as taking a cash advance to pay for a broken down car we desperately need to get to work or stretching ramen noodles until the first of the month. His childhood was one of fantastic wealth, trips around the world, incredible food, multimillion dollar sports cars, and so on.
This is also Trump’s world. Trump was born into the same wealth and privilege and has never actually had to work a day in his life. Both Trump and Mnuchin could have spent their lives comfortably unemployed and still enjoyed more luxury than you and I could ever dream of.
These are the politicians who claim to represent change, to represent the people. Nothing could be further than the truth.
Steven Mnuchin left Goldman to create his own hedge fund, Dune Capital Management, named after a spot near his house in the Hamptons. His fund invested in two of Trump’s projects and, oddly enough, had the privilege of being one of many people to be sued by Trump.
Undaunted, Mnuchin went on to purchase IndyMac, the failing mortgage company, along with his business partners George Soros and John Paulson. IndyMac was renamed OneWest to distance itself from its part in the 2008 mortgage crisis.
During his time as OneWest’s chair Mnuchin engaged in a string of questionable foreclosures some of which were settled for millions of dollars. After such a stellar performance, OneWest was sold to CIT Group for $3.4 billion dollars, much of which lined Mnuchin’s pockets.
Getting rich off foreclosures
The California Reinvestment Coalition opposed this sale and was able to obtain damning evidence through Freedom of Information Act from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the documents it obtained it was revealed that OneWest’s subsidiary, Financial Freedom, foreclosed on 16,220 federally insured reverse mortgages between 2009 and 2016 which represented 39% of all of these types of foreclosures during that timeframe in the entire mortgage industry.
Given that Financial Freedom only serviced 17% of the mortgage industry, the amount of foreclosures were nearly double what they ought to have been. Keep in mind that federal insurance means that taxpayer money went to pay back Financial Freedom for its losses due to non payment. It seems that this was the whole point of the foreclosures in the first place.
Mnuchin knew that there was no risk of not collecting from the destitute mortgage holders since taxpayer funds would make up the difference. This is the same Wall Street corruption that used billions in taxpayer funds to bailout the banks when their rampant speculation bankrupted millions of account holders. It is believed that Mnuchin owns about $97 million dollars in CIT stock.
Wall Street has the real power
Mnuchin represents the most recent member in a line of Goldman Sachs executives who have ruled as Secretary of the Treasury; starting with Robert Rubin under Bill Clinton and Henry Paulson under George W. Bush. Republican or Democrat, the differences between the two ruling class parties are completely secondary to securing the power and wealth of the elite as a whole.
It is important to understand the dynamic between the banking industry and Washington. In our childhood civics classes we are told that our elected officials are the supreme power in the United States. The truth is that, compared to the executives of the major banks, elected officials are lesser in power and prestige.
The reason why Goldman Sachs is consistently at the helm of one of the most powerful positions in the world is because they are more powerful than the Presidents who appear to appoint them. The reason they can engage in systemic fraud and theft and still walk free is because the courts and the cops lack the power to punish them. The banking industry is the true ruler in a capitalist society.
For a society to be truly democratic in deed and not only in word it must be socialist. It is not enough that the people can choose their leaders. They must also be able to choose how the great wealth of society is used and who benefits.
So long as the likes of Steven Mnuchin are appointed to keep our Treasury we can never live in a democratic and free world. So long as billionaires are the only ones able to run for election we cannot say that this is a government for and by the people.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation is struggling to build a truly democratic future where the people control the wealth they create – a world in which racist bigots like Trump could never run for office, let alone be elected. If this sounds like a world worth fighting for reach out and get involved with us.