As the stench of the corpse fart that is the 2016 presidential election cycle wafts out across our national psyche, it seems to permeate every smaller issue still up for debate.
Take for instance the wonky issue of the new fiduciary investment advice rule being passed down by the Department of Labor. While the essence of the rule is to protect everyday American investors by demanding that all financial advisers act in the best interest of their client, many in the investment community are annoyed that the whole thing is just more Big Brother bullshit cloaked in the guise of government altruism. Solid points have been made on both sides.
In one sense, the argument over the fiduciary rule is kind of a comforting throwback to a political era when polite old dudes argued about the size of government and then drank whiskey. But like everything else in 2016, even this tiny debate just got a heaping helping of batshit courtesy of Dealbreaker's old buddy Anthony Scaramucci.
Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of Skybridge Capital, said the measure, which requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients in retirement accounts, is an example of government overreach that would divert too much capital into low-cost passive ETFs and index funds.
“We're going to repeal it,” Mr. Scaramucci said on the sidelines of the Securities Enforcement Forum in Washington last week. “It could be the dumbest decision to come out of the U.S. government in the last 50 to 60 years.”
Okay, Mooch is both a visible member of the Trump campaign and a hedge fund manager, so maybe he's looking to get a double whammy out of this appearance. Making this about the future of government while also arguing for his rights as a fund manager is how the game is played. Just so long as he doesn't get too carried away...
In an aside, Mr. Scaramucci compared the DOL rule to an 1857 Supreme Court ruling which held that African Americans were not U.S. citizens.
“It's about like the Dred Scott decision,” Mr. Scaramucci said.
WOW. That's definitely...an analogy. Would he care to maybe do literally anything to somehow defend linking a Supreme Court decision codifying racial slavery to a DOL advice rule about financiers behaving a certain way towards retirement accounts?
He made the analogy because he views the DOL rule as discriminatory, Mr. Scaramucci wrote in a follow-up email.
“The left-leaning Department of Labor has made a decision to discriminate against a class of people who they deem to be adding no value,” he wrote. “They are judging what should happen in a free market and attempting to put financial advisers out of work. When market forces cyclically adjust again, they will be having congressional hearings about how big the mistake was to do this.”
Again, the partisan rancor in our culture is pitched to a level that we have not seen in decades or maybe ever. And Scaramucci isn't the first panelist in history to reach for a dramatic equivalency only to find himself grabbing an extremely false one (hell, Scaramucci isn't even - believe it or not - the only person to bring up Dred Scott in today's news cycle!), but doubling down and trying to justify a correlation between a regulatory burden on hedge fund managers and the institution of slavery is helpful to literally no one.
Wall Street has been talking it on the chin pretty hard in this election - and much of the criticism ranks somewhere between uninformed and wrong - but things like the fiduciary rule are hard to fight without crafting a wily argument that gets people to look around the vanilla "goodness" of it and see the possibly unfair side effects it creates. Being on the receiving end of constant attacks from people that almost certainly don't really understand what you even do cannot be fun, and it makes sense that people in finance are growing defensive and combative. But in the shadow of Wells Fargo, the argument for Wall Street requires even more clearheaded nuance...and also leaving Dred Scott out of it would be pretty clever too.
Anthony Scaramucci is a successful, well-liked guy in the world of finance who clearly feels strongly about a lot of things these days. So he must understand that a wealthy white hedge fund manager publicly using the most indefensibly racist and shameful moment in American jurisprudence to defend Wall Street is exactly the kind of thing that keeps people hating on Wall Street.
We (and this includes you, Mooch) are better than this.