In a 2006 Trump University audiobook, Trump was asked about “gloomy predictions that the real estate market is heading for a spectacular crash.” He responded by saying the prospect was actually something he was looking forward to.
“I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy,” Trump said. “If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money… If you’re in a good cash position — which I’m in a good cash position today — then people like me would go in and buy like crazy.”
Now that those comments have been unearthed, they’re coming back to haunt the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) excoriated Trump for the remarks, saying they’re reflective of “a small insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes money off it” and “cares about no one but himself.”
“Sometimes Trump claims he is tough on Wall Street, but now he is singing a very different song, he is saying that the new Dodd-Frank regulations, and I’m going to quote here, ‘made it impossible for bankers to function’ and he will put out a new plan soon that will be close to dismantling it,” Warren continued. “Donald Trump is worried about helping poor little Wall Street. Let me find the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad song.”
Hillary Clinton, frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, has been echoing Warren’s criticisms of Trump both on social media and while campaigning.
Millions of Americans lost jobs and homes in the 2008 crash. A man who hoped for it has no business being president.https://t.co/tnngHOd1gj
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 24, 2016
“He said ‘I sort of hope that happens.’ He actually said that,” Clinton said during a campaign rally on Tuesday. “And now he says he wants to roll back the financial regulations that we have imposed on Wall Street to let them run wild again. Well I will tell you what — you and I together, we’re not going to let him.”
Trump’s defense of his remarks is that he was a businessman at the time and was thinking in a very different way than he would if elected president.
“I am a businessman and I have made a lot of money in down markets, in some cases as much as I’ve made when markets are good,” Trump said in a statement. “Frankly, this is the kind of thinking our country needs — understanding how to get a good result out of a very bad and sad situation.”
As Warren alluded to, however, Trump’s “kind of thinking” could recreate the crisis conditions that led to the housing crash in the first place. That’s because a central plank of Trump’s economic platform is the dismantling of Dodd-Frank, the package of financial reforms that went into effect in 2010 and includes regulations sought to curb the risk-taking on Wall Street that led to the implosion of the global economy. Trump argues that by over-regulating the banking sector, Dodd-Frank stifles economic growth.
But whose economic growth? The 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession that ensued may have presented investment opportunities for Trump, but for the typical American family, it led to less income and more debt. The only households to see income gains during that period were the highest earners, continuing a trend of widening income inequality that now spans four decades. Trump has used populist economic rhetoric throughout his campaign — for instance, he recently criticized Democratic presidential frontrunner for allegedly being “totally controlled by Wall Street” — but his economic platform is the standard Republican trickle-down fare, featuring a budget-busting tax cut for the rich and very little for the poorest Americans.
Meanwhile, Sen. Warren and a group of other labor leaders and members of Congress rolled out a “Take On Wall Street” initiative on Tuesday meant to expand upon some of the things Dodd-Frank has already accomplished, such as the $10.1 billion in consumer relief brought about by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead of rolling back regulations, Warren and her cohort want to “use our democratic prerogative to make the high and mighty on Wall Street obey our interests.”