So let’s see: the president cuts a deal with corporate executives to give him favors—in this case, a press conference and some good PR—in exchange for straightforward handouts and the implicit promise of greater rewards in the future, to be gained from personal access to public officials. What would you call that?
A New York investment banker sums up the situation: “If we step back and I’m looking at earnings of $6.60 per share this year, 2 cents is an easy concession if the president-elect listens to some of the company’s bigger concerns.” Or, as a trade expert puts it, “Goodwill is an asset. Companies all the time want to build goodwill with their governments.”
I call that a form of pay-to-play. And that brings us back to Trump’s promise to drain the swamp. It was ridiculous from the beginning, of course. Trump is a swamp creature if ever there was one. So all he has done is to change the swamp. Rather than horse-trading to provide special favors to one group of cronies, we’re going to have horse-trading to provide special favors to another group of cronies. The difference is that the president himself, who fancies himself a master dealmaker, will be openly at the center of the favor-trading.