Foran: So you’re not ruling anything out?
Steyer: I’m not. I’m sitting here trying to figure out what will be the most impactful. It’s a hard question.
Foran: Do any of those things, like a run for California governor, or a presidential run, appeal to you?
Steyer: Someone asked me, “Does the fact that Donald Trump got elected, does that change things?” Yeah, of course it changes things. So I will make a decision, but if I do it, I’d like to announce it with all the reasons behind it, not along the way.
Foran: Since you know a lot of people in the political world, have you gotten advice from anyone on whether to run or talked to people who think you should run?
Steyer: The question is not what do fancy people think, the question is what do normal people think. I’m much more interested in thinking about whether there’s anything I have to say that is specifically meaningful to people.
Foran: In your speech at the progressive political convention, Netroots, you talked about corporate greed. NextGen has also endorsed the Not One Penny campaign opposing tax cuts for wealthy corporations and billionaires.
How do you you approach talking about corporate power and influence, when you come from a hedge fund background? Do you think that is hard to square with the direction the party is going in, in terms of calls to get big money out of politics and populist sentiment?
Steyer: Actually, I think I understand how that system works. I’ve spent a lot of time studying corporations and what makes them tick. I think I have a pretty good sense of how that works. So actually, the fact that I spent a lot of time investing in companies, and figuring out how they’re organized, is a big plus.
I think I understand the incentives of people running those companies. I think I understand the relationships between different people within the company: people who are straightforward employees, people who can impact the bottom line, and people who share in the bottom line. I don’t think you can understand inequality in America unless you understand what’s driving profitability.
Foran: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have been working to cut deals with President Trump: First, there was a spending deal, then Schumer and Pelosi announced they were working with the president on the terms of an agreement that would pass the DREAM Act alongside border security measures, though no final deal on DACA has been reached. Do you think Democrats are making a mistake by trying to make deals with Trump?
Steyer: Look, I don’t believe he is a trustworthy counterpart full stop. I believe that trying to deal with Donald Trump is like trying to play three-card monte in Central Park, it’s not going to work out.
I think that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi obviously are incredibly sympathetic to the DACA people. And so am I, of course. Obviously, we’re in favor of renewing and continuing DACA. But there’s a threshold question as to whether this is someone who is trustworthy. They obviously seem to think they can get things done, and I am extraordinarily skeptical of that. I believe that in dealing with him there’s the risk that it won’t happen, and there’s the risk that you normalize that this is someone who is fit to be dealt with.