If you want to know how the country went to the dogs and elected Donald Trump our President, ponder a simple statistic recently issued by the U.S. Census Bureau: Americans’ median household income finally eclipsed 1999’s peak level in real dollars. After 18 years—many in deep recession followed by anemic economic growth—the nearly fatal damage of the catastrophic mortgage swindle has been overcome.
Not that $59,000—on which 50% of typical American families get to live—is the high life, but it’s a good indicator of how desperate those folks must have felt when even that standard was systematically eroded in the tidal swell of “liar loans,” fraudulent collateralized debt obligations and other devilishly devious scams dreamt up by Wall Street con artists. And they got away with it virtually scot-free. No high-level banker went to jail, and some took home massive bonuses after their nearly bankrupt institutions were bailed out by the administrations of lame-duck Republican George W. Bush and his successor, Democrat Barack Obama.
As I wrote in my book The Great American Stickup, Bill Clinton bears major responsibility for the economic meltdown of 2007-2008. As President in 1999, he signed off on several bills—supported by most Congressional Republicans and Democrats—deregulating the financial industry. No matter what actually triggered the crisis, millions of Americans lost their homes, and they no longer trusted the political system. That explains why so many voters in 2016 took a flyer on the most obviously corrupt snake oil salesman to ever win a U.S. Presidential election.