Back in August 2015, Anthony Scaramucci, who has just been appointed White House communications director, was on Fox Business to discuss Donald Trump’s then-recent bashing of the hedge fund industry as just people who “move around paper,” in contrast to Trump’s real brick-and-mortar construction business.
Scaramucci was scathing in his response, labeling Trump “a hack politician” with “anti-American” rhetoric. He said Trump was on track to be “president of the Queens County Bullies’ Association” and that while other GOP “politicians don’t want to go after Trump because they’re afraid he’s going to light them up on Fox News,” he wasn’t afraid.
“You’re an inherited money dude from Queens County,” Scaramucci said. “Bring it.”
At the end of the clip, Scaramucci — who had a varied background in finance before making his real money running what’s known as a “fund of hedge funds,” essentially a super-high-fee investment vehicle that lets people pay Scaramucci fees for the right to invest in a diverse portfolio of high-fee hedge funds — gets to the real point.
“Bashing the hedge fund community is right out of Elizabeth Warren’s playbook,” Scaramucci remarks, before speculating that Trump might be “a plant” from the Democratic Party.
In office, Trump has governed as an extremely loyal friend of high finance. His Treasury secretary is a hedge fund guy, and his National Economic Council director used to work at Goldman Sachs. He’s taking executive action to make it easier for investment advisers to get away with giving clients bad advice, and he’s thrown his administration’s weight behind an effort to repeal the post-crisis financial regulations. His pick for the top regulatory job on the Fed, Randy Quarles, has a finance background and headed up domestic financial regulation at the Treasury Department in the mid-aughts.
Trump is a Republican, and Republicans like business-friendly regulation. And Trump is specifically a Republican who’s spent decades living in Manhattan, where a very disproportionate share of the rich businesspeople you meet work in finance. And his administration shows it.
But Scaramucci’s old take on Trump is a reminder that candidate Trump was a different — and in many ways more moderate — brand of Republican who expressed considerable skepticism about the mainstream GOP’s approach to economic policy. Scaramucci has changed his tune on Trump, but more fundamentally, it’s Trump who’s changed his approach.