White House Budget Director and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney gave a speech to more than a thousand banking executives this week and basically told them that they need to buy off politicians to help weaken the agency he has been appointed to destroy. I mean, run. No, destroy. That is his entire goal, and Trump’s.
Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told banking industry executives on Tuesday that they should press lawmakers hard to pursue their agenda, and revealed that, as a congressman, he would meet only with lobbyists if they had contributed to his campaign.
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, told 1,300 bankers and lending industry officials at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”…
Mr. Mulvaney said that trying to sway legislators was one of the “fundamental underpinnings of our representative democracy. And you have to continue to do it.”
There is, or should be, a clear difference between “trying to sway legislators” and buying them off to get what you want. If money spent to influence public policy is one of the “fundamental underpinnings” of the system, that’s an oligarchy, not a democracy. It gives far more power and influence to the wealthy than to the average citizen and the results are often disastrous in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to list them all.
I have to wonder how this will play with Trump’s base. Remember, Trump got elected at least partly because he sounded like a populist. Time and again during the campaign, he criticized exactly this kind of big money influence. He talked over and over again about how, as a rich businessman, he bought off politicians. He told the Wall Street Journal, “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” During one of the primary debates, he said, “I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.” But because he’s rich, he said, he can’t be bought off. And he was going to “drain the swamp” of this kind of lobbyist influence.
Will this obvious contradiction matter to his base? Nope. No more than the fact that he has all of his products made overseas while he decries that very thing on a daily basis. His base is with him not because of public policy considerations but because the have joined the cult of personality and because he gives them convenient scapegoats to blame their lives on — women, poor people, black people, Mexicans, Muslims. No contradiction is going to change that.