The Phaserl


Italy’s Referendum Should Be a Warning to Donald Trump

by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall Street On Parade:

Populist backlash, which has been running rampant on both sides of the Atlantic, just handed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi his walking papers in a widely anticipated referendum vote. Renzi pushed for the referendum to reform the legislative system in Italy and said he would resign if it didn’t pass. Voters saw it as a power grab by Renzi and soundly defeated it with just under 60 percent voting against the measure. Under the terms of the referendum, Italy’s Senate would have shrunk from 315 members to 100 while the Senate’s right to hold a vote of no confidence in the government would have been severed.

Much like Donald Trump’s appeal to the working class in America, Renzi took office in 2014 on an anti-establishment campaign. Ironically, or perhaps not, Renzi used the identical words as Trump, promising to clean out “the swamp.” The swamp in Italy includes the same cronyism, political pay-to-play and entrenched corruption that has Americans outraged and seeking drastic change from the status quo. Opposing voices who triumphed in yesterday’s referendum painted Renzi as too chummy with bankers and financiers, a narrative that is increasingly coming into sharp focus in Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointments.

Donald Trump’s Senior Counselor/Chief Strategist in the White House will be Steve Bannon, a previous Goldman Sachs banker and right-wing propaganda filmmaker. For one of the most powerful posts in government, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Trump has tapped a former 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, Steven Mnuchin. An heiress to a family worth more than $5 billion, Betsy DeVos, was tapped by Trump for Education Secretary while billionaire investor and corporate raider Wilbur Ross has been named by Trump as his nominee for Commerce Secretary.

Trump, himself a billionaire, has attempted to justify his packing his administration with millionaires and billionaires by saying these people “know how to make money.” In many cases, however, the money has been made on the backs of the very working class to whom Trump made elaborate promises. While the U.S. legislative system does not function like European Parliaments, a President who makes grandiose promises to the little guy, then works on behalf of the one percent, would suffer a serious loss of credibility in U.S. opinion polls. This could result in backlash against Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

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