In this week’s episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Felix Salmon, chief financial correspondent at Axios and host of the Slate Money podcast. They discuss how Mike Bloomberg or Bernie Sanders would square up in a general election against Trump, Wall Street’s prospects in the 2020 campaign, Trump pardoning Michael Milken (and his role in junk bonds), and Jeffrey Epstein’s brother Mark and the destruction of Cooper Union.
We also have a special guest appearance this week from Rolling Stone politics editor Patrick Reis to walk us through the mental backflips of some recent Washington Post op-eds.
Salmon breaks down Bloomberg’s role as a post-mayor philanthropist, along with a larger context of how philanthropy functions and it’s distinctions from charity. “Philanthropy is essentially unaccountable billionaires using their privileged access to governments to get the government to do what those unaccountable billionaires want them to do,” Salmon says. “That on its face is incredibly undemocratic.”
The trio discusses Bloomberg’s progressive campaign platform regarding Wall Street financial industry, comparing his platform to Warren’s — minus breaking up the banks. They also look at the striking differences between Bloomberg and Trump’s respective piggy banks, as Salmon points out that “Bloomberg’s annual income is greater than Trump’s net worth.”
According to Salmon, if Sanders ended up beating out Bloomberg and the rest, “this would be the first election ever where you don’t really have a candidate of the coastal elite; you don’t have a candidate of Wall Street.”
And when it comes to grand policy ideas, Salmon refuses the premise of the age-old question: How are you going to pay for it?