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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

At last, Trump has set the stage for a sequel to his first book of lies, The Art of the Deal—and in grand style. He’s found the right investor. He may have received a gold necklace from the Saudi king and looked regal; he is actually acting as a broker to have Saudi Arabia invest $40 billion in Blackstone, so Trump can give away our crown jewels in the guise of fixing our crumbling infrastructure. Like all Trump deals, being the showman, he’ll leave the details to others.

However, the real priority of his infrastructure plan is now abundantly clear. We now know what he means when he heralds a public-private partnership. Simply put, it means giving private enterprise the public’s assets, so investment can build something for a return on investment. While the New Deal’s WPA had government turning to private enterprise to build projects like public buildings and structures like the great dams to create hydro-electric power for millions of people and employing millions of workers, this is about selling our bridges, tunnels and roads to investment bankers. Does Trump even have the power to make these deals without congressional approval? I hope not.

Last week Jared Kushner called Lockheed and supposedly convinced it to lower its prices for the benefit of a foreign customer. Is that the administration’s way of putting America first? This week, Kushner and his father-in-law met the Saudis and worked out a deal to sell them a variety of weaponry, while getting them to invest $40 billion in Blackstone, so they can invest in our crumbling infrastructure. In this no-bid asset sale, with nothing more than a handshake, Trump has given Blackstone the funds to end up owning our infrastructure. I suppose this is what Trump means when he declares, “Buy American.”

It is becoming abundantly clear that we have a group of businessmen running our country in an attempt to take as much as they can for their former companies, whether it’s Rex Tillerson’s Exxon/Mobil, or Steven Mnuchin’s Goldman Sachs. It is hard to reconcile this charade on so many levels. For one, since when does a president think he has the right to sell our country? Secondly, when did we lose the ability to have our other elected officials—by that I mean Republicans—continue to permit this administration to go on a jaunt around the world, speaking for the American people in the very same week they are proposing to gut any aid to those most in need? Big business gets tax breaks and incentives to pillage our country to benefit Trump’s cronies in the White House. It’s one thing to take from Peter to pay Paul, but quite another to take from Peter and give everything to Paul.

By the time this “president” is gone, his brand will only be welcome in the most repressive and authoritarian countries in the world. It’s a perfect match, with no regulations and full-on government handouts. He couldn’t have asked for a better deal. Warning to France: Watch out for the Eiffel Tower.

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