After the election, hedge fund manager (and founder of Democrats for Education Reform) Whitney Tilson expressed surprise and relief that Trump was choosing Wall Street insiders for his economic team. Now, please, bear in mind that while I have not met Whitney, we have exchanged public letters and are new best friends (see here and here and here), although we disagree on very big issues.


Business Insider wrote:


The president-elect’s transition team announced this week that Wall Street banker Steve Mnuchin would be nominated as Treasury secretary. Mnuchin is a Goldman Sachs alum and would be the third such person to run the US Treasury Department since the 1990s. Trump also picked billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to serve as secretary of commerce.


In the last weeks of the election, Trump adopted the catchphrase “drain the swamp” as a declaration to rid Washington of insiders who are out of touch with ordinary Americans.


Tilson said he was relieved Trump appeared to be surrounding himself with bankers and businessmen, recalling that he was worried Trump “was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up.”


“The fact that he’s appointing people from within the system is a good thing,” he said.


Senator Elizabeth Warren was not at all pleased by Trump’s choice of Wall Street insiders, and she criticized Tilson on her Facebook page. 


She wrote:


Hedge fund managers like Whitney Tilson are thrilled by Donald Trump’s economic team of Wall Street insiders: “I think Donald Trump conned [voters]. I was worried that he was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up. So the fact that he’s appointing people from within the system is a good thing.”
Tilson knows that, despite all the stunts and rhetoric, Donald Trump isn’t going to change the economic system – he’s going to tilt the playing field even further for those as the very top. Trump’s Treasury pick, Steve Mnuchin, helped peddle the products that led to the 2008 crisis, and then made another fortune aggressively foreclosing on families who were still reeling from the crisis. Mnuchin has already promised to push massive tax cuts for giant corporations and more lenient rules for his old buddies on Wall Street.
If Trump gets his way, the next four years are going to be a bonanza for the Whitney Tilsons of the world – at the expense and pain of everyone else. It’s up to Democrats to stand up for working families – and they can start by standing up against Steve Mnuchin.


Whitney Tilson was very upset about Warren’s critique, and he brought the matter to the attention of a New York Times business writer, who sprang to his defense, pointing out that Tilson had supported Clinton. Tilson was very upset that Warren called him a “billionaire,” as he says he is not. She removed that word from her Facebook post but has refused to delete it.


I am not sure why she should delete it. Whitney Tilson did praise Trump for picking executives from Goldman Sachs after bashing Clinton for taking speaking fees from the same firm, as Warren said. The hedge fund managers who have been engaged in promoting privatization will do very well during the Trump administration, as Warren said.


Betsy DeVos, unmentioned in this exchange, contributed to Democrats for Education Reform, to help them in their campaign for charter schools, which is the first step in her goal of privatizing America’s schools. 


Tilson believes that schools won’t get better with more funding or smaller classes. What is needed is school choice. That is what DeVos believes, too. And yet people who are wealthy prefer schools with more funding and smaller classes. No conundrum there.