President Barack Obama has claimed that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would increase the risk of a new financial crisis and serve the interests of his fellow billionaires.
Speaking in Elkhart, Indiana, the first city he visited after becoming president, Obama also attempted to defend his own economic record against claims his poor performance has fuelled the rise of anti-establishment candidates such as Trump and Bernie Sanders.
The Guardian quotes the President as saying: “The one thing I can promise you is if we turn against each other based on divisions of race or religion, if we fall for a bunch of okey doke just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we’re not going to build on the progress that we’ve started.”
“If we get cynical and just vote our fears, or if we don’t vote at all, we won’t build on the progress that we’ve started.”
The President said that he had introduced the toughest Wall Street laws in US history and created a new consumer watchdog to prevent a repeat of the last crisis.
“The Republican nominee for president has already said he’d dismantle all these rules that we passed,” Obama added. “That is crazy. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I just don’t get it. How it is that somebody could propose that we weaken regulations on Wall Street?
“Have we really forgotten what just happened eight years ago? It hasn’t been that long ago and because of their reckless behaviour, you got hurt.”
He went on, however, to implicitly admit a failure in his own policy of making the richest Americans pay more tax.
“Today, even as the top 1% is doing better than ever for all the reasons I talked about earlier, the Republican nominee for president’s tax plan would give the top one-tenth of 1% a bigger tax cut than the 120 million American households at the bottom.
“It would explode our deficits by nearly $10tn. I’m not making this up. You can look at the math. That will not bring jobs back. That is not fighting for the American middle class. That will not help us win. That is not going to make your lives better, that will help people like him.”
The president also denied that immigration was the main reason lower-income Americans were having their wages squeezed, claiming migrants boost the economy.
“Most importantly, immigrants are not the main reason why wages haven’t gone up for middle-class families.
“Those decisions are made in the boardrooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker.
“So deporting 11 million immigrants – not only is that a fantasy that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and tear families apart and just logistically would be impossible – even if it were possible, it wouldn’t do anything to seriously help the middle class.”