Donald Trump was asked today to explain why, in his words, he has identified more with Democrats than with Republicans. The answer, he claimed, is that the economy crashed in 2008 because of mistakes made by President Bush.
This may be a good answer (or the best one available) from a political perspective. Trump is appealing primarily to disaffected Republicans who believe the GOP hasn’t stood up for them sufficiently on issues relating to the economy (immigration is the best example). Attributing his pro-Democrat leanings to Bush’s handling of the economy makes political sense.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t make historical sense; nor is it an honest explanation. The Bush administration certainly isn’t blameless when it comes to the 2008 crash. But, as we have argued and New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson and her co-author Joshua Rosen have shown, it was mainly the imposition of race-conscious lending practices on the banking industry that led to the financial crisis.
In 1994, Bill Clinton proposed increasing home ownership through a “partnership” between government and the private sector, principally orchestrated by Fannie Mae. Lenders proceeded to promote reckless borrowing, knowing they could offload risk to purchasers of bundled loans, and especially to Fannie. In 1994, subprime lending was $40 billion. In 1995, almost one in five mortgages was subprime. Four years later such lending totaled $160 billion.
The Bush administration warned as early as 2001 about the problems these lending policies were creating, and in 2003, through Secretary of Treasury John Snow, pushed for reforms to address the issue. But congressional Democrats, led by Barney Frank, blocked reform legislation.
Yes, Bush should have done more to alleviate the situation. But no, Republicans don’t bear primary responsibility for the 2008 crash.
Nor did a belief to the contrary cause Trump to tilt to the Democrats. According to this account, Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001-2008. He switched his registration the very year that, in his telling, the Republicans “crashed the economy.”
In truth, Trump is a natural Democrat. His views on major issues are — or were until recently — standard-issue liberal.
Peter Wehner has the details.
[Trump] has supported massive tax increases on the wealthy, a Canadian-style single-payer health care system, and is a fierce protection. He once declared himself “strongly pro-choice” and favored drug legalization.
Earlier this year, he accused Republicans who want to reform entitlement programs — the essential task for those who favor limited government — of “attacking” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Barack Obama couldn’t have said it better.
And Barney Frank couldn’t have better stated the Democrats’ line on who caused the 2008 financial crisis.
We need not consult Trump’s revisionist history of that crisis to figure out why he was a registered Democrat for most of the last decade. On key issues his views align closely with those of the Dems.
It’s as straightforward as that.