Trump's Ponzi Scheme

The real-estate mogul is running on his business record—but it shows the same flaws as his campaign itself.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Maybe you’re a voter who’s frustrated with American politics—leaders who can’t get anything done, who don't care about you, and who've forgotten how to compete in a fast-changing world. Maybe you find the idea of putting a businessman like Donald Trump in charge appealing—a straight-talking, hard-charging deal-maker who validates your concerns, many of them totally rational and yet ignored or mocked by the political establishment.

But if you take a closer look, I think you’ll find that Donald Trump’s presidential record is just like his actual business record: exploiting the hopes and fears of Americans by promising huge rewards, without any practical plan for delivering them. It’s a political Ponzi scheme.

What got me thinking today was this story in the Washington Post about one of Trump’s many failed business ventures: “The Trump Network sought to make people rich, but left behind disappointment.” It’s just the latest in a series of stories you can find online about Trump duping hard-working people like you. And a close read offers disturbing parallels between Trump’s business record, and his campaign.

The salespeople at Ideal health were thrilled when they heard Donald Trump would become the new face of their company.

The voters of the GOP were thrilled when they heard Donald Trump would become the new face of their party.

He became involved in an industry that consumer advocates had long criticized as promising financial independence to sales recruits but rarely delivering it.

Trump promises to build walls, deport Hispanics, ban Muslims, tame China, eradicate ISIS, increase wages, and create millions of jobs—to make America great again—without a credible plan to deliver any of it. His campaign is a get-rich-quick scheme.

Trump says he was not involved in the company’s operations.

But he was. You’re investing your hopes in a guy who bragged about the benefits of deception in “The Art of the Deal,” and whose record of lies as a candidate may inoculate Hillary Clinton against the untrustworthiness bug. I am not telling you how to vote. I am begging you to recognize this next sentence as a fact, not an opinion: Donald Trump is a habitual liar.

For what it’s worth.

Well before Trump got involved, Ideal Health had faced similar questions about its business practices.

He made things worse. See where this is going? Long before Trump got involved, the U.S. political system faced questions about its practices. President Trump could make things worse.

[Former Trump Network salesperson Lenny] Izzo said that Trump could have saved the company.”

But he didn’t.Trump says he’ll make American great again. Do you really believe him?

Interviews with nine former salespeople and industry and academic experts—as well as court filings, Federal Trade Commission complaints and Trump Network documents and videos that remain online today—tell the story of Trump leveraging his name and reputation, only to leave some disappointed when imagined benefits did not materialize.

This could be you—a voter leveraged by Trump in 2016, only to be disappointed when imagined benefits did not materialize.