Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton the “candidate of Wall Street,” but the President-elect could bring the ultimate Wall Street insider to his cabinet.
CNBC is reporting that Trump’s advisers have “floated the possibility of naming JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary.” Dimon, a Democrat, is perhaps the most high-profile and well-respected CEO of any major Wall Street firm, but has been vocal in his criticisms of Democratic efforts to regulate Wall Street in the years following the financial crisis.
That Trump is reportedly considering nominating Dimon to the arguably most important economic policy role in the executive branch underscores the irony of the head of the Republican Party flying an anti-Wall Street flag so aggressively.
First, Trump’s crusade against Wall Street during the campaign was purely rhetorical. He used the fact that Hillary Clinton raised a lot of money from Wall Street to insinuate that she would bestow gifts on the financial industry through her policy positions. But her proposals—whatever their merits—included new regulations on the banking sector that it would not welcome, while Donald Trump’s only promise was to repeal Dodd-Frank regulations that have restricted risk-taking behavior and forced banks to raise more capital. He’s also suggested lowering income taxes on wealthy earners, which would likely please the upper-income workers at financial services firms.
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Second, the Republican Party doesn’t have a lot of experience incorporating a populist attitude into their cabinets. Republican Presidents have largely named business leaders from large, establishment firms or Wall Street to the Treasury. Otherwise, they have chosen political figures with deep ties to the Republican establishment. One avenue Trump might take to strike a balance would be to nominate a high-ranking Republican Congressmen with a history of taking a skeptical stance toward Wall Street, like Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who has supported measures that would break up too-big to fail banks, and is planning to retire from the Senate this year.
It’s also entirely possible that Trump will plan to keep up rhetorical pressure on Wall Street, while appointing figures friendly to financial services, maintaining this tension that served him so well during the election.