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Trump’s Glass-Steagall Speech Revives Political Debate

Oct. 29, 2016 (EIRNS)—A Washington political insider with close ties to both the Republican and Democratic party leadership had the following assessment of the Trump speech earlier this week, calling for reinstating the Roosevelt-era Glass-Steagall banking-separation law which had been repealed in 1999: Whether Trump was being serious or opportunistic, the speech has rekindled the larger policy fight over the need to reinstate Glass-Steagall, and that is a very good thing, regardless of the election outcome. It had been hoped that Trump would raise the Glass-Steagall issue earlier; however, the fact that is has been re-injected into the presidential campaign, even in the final days, is a good development. If Trump wins, it will be vital to hold his feet to the fire and make sure he actually follows through on this campaign statement. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be facing the same groundswell of demand for Glass-Steagall, which is equally strong or stronger among Democratic core voters. The Glass-Steagall fight has been inserted into the presidential race at the very top and that is something that cannot be erased.

There are indications that Donald Trump’s promotion of “21st-Century Glass-Steagall Act” in his Charlotte speech was planned and intended to be the serious, though very belated, presentation of an economic program.

Aside from the serious tone of the presentation—it may have been Trump’s only speech this year, outside a church, which was nearly free of buffoonery and macho aggression—it was also preceded and accompanied by public expressions from Trump advisors, locating Glass-Steagall restoration as part of an economic plan.

In July Trump named 15 men, most billionaires and certainly none economic saints, to an economic advisory team. Three have promoted Glass-Steagall. Immediately after Trump spoke in Charlotte, vulture-capitalist billionaire Wilbur Ross appeared on Fox News Oct. 27: “WL Ross and Co.’s Wilbur Ross on Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan and Trump’s calls for a ‘21st century’ version of Glass-Steagall,” as the banner for the “Mornings with Maria” financial show announced it.

Ross explained a private-sector infrastructure bank scheme of $1 trillion to create 1 million infrastructure jobs—not ultimately workable, but nonetheless clearly presented to back up Trump’s linkage of Glass-Steagall and “credit for small businesses” in the Charlotte speech. Then questioned by Maria Bartiromo on the “21st Century Glass-Steagall,” Ross said,

“Well, the banks. It isn’t so much that they’re too big. It’s that they’re too complex. Too complex and too complicated internally.... You have to know ... every kind of obscure, complicated product in the derivative markets. That’s an awful big menu for anybody to absorb. We think it might be better for the banks to stick to lending, and instead of making more restrictions on lending, make it easier for them to make loans.”

On Oct. 7, Ross and Peter Navarro, another Trump-panel advisor, were interviewed by Politico, attacking Hillary Clinton’s idea of what caused the 2008 crash, and calling for restoration of Glass-Steagall. This may have indicated a desire for Trump to have made this speech sooner; it may have taken an “urban policy” speech in a “Black Lives Matter” setting (Charlotte) to get him to do it seriously.

Navarro is a China-bashing U.C.-Irvine economics professor, author of Death by China and similar. A third member of Trump’s billionaire panel, former NuCor Steel CEO and now author Dan DiMicco, has also spoken out for Glass-Steagall, this past Summer.

Don’t rule out, that the manipulative Trump also called it the “21st-Century Glass-Steagall Act” in order to provoke his ferocious electoral foe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

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