Wednesday, June 01, 2016

With His Experience As A University Founder, Would Trump Be America's Education President?


Wonder when more voters will start seeing Trump as the con man he is? If the widely mistrusted and disliked Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party nominee, her only shot to win is if enough voters are more repulsed by Trump than by her. We've been covering the slow-boiling Trump University scandal for several years-- long before he came down the escalator to announce he is running for president by branding Mexican immigrants rapists. Trump's scam-- which he started in 2005-- began unravelling in 2010 when dozens of students started complaining to the authorities in New York, California, Texas and Illinois that the net reprise was a scam and that they had been hustled out of substantial money. Trump was defiant and asserted that the law suit in New York was politically-motivated because his attempted bribe to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ($12,500) wasn't enough and that Schneiderman wanted more.

Today, the New York Daily News, probably the newspaper that knows Trump best of any publication in the world, labeled Trump a ripoff artist. They reported that "Federal court documents unsealed Tuesday by Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Indiana-born judge called a 'Mexican' by Trump, revealed a 'playbook' that made marks out would-be real estate investors lured by the Trump name... [starting with a] sales force’s revolting practice of requiring registrants to reveal their incomes, savings and debts so that sellers could rate their likely prospects and leverage the information for later use." The playbook reveals that Trump's employees were instructed to "Collect personalized information that you can utilize during closing time. (For example: are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food?)... Every single company goes into debt when they are first starting out, EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS! The profits pay off the debt and before you know it, your new real-estate business will start making amazing returns."

Last night, Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder, reporting on newly released testimony for the New York Times wrote that it wasn't just the students exposing Trump's scheme, but even high level employees of the enterprise, who portrayed it as "an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics, employed unqualified instructors, made deceptive claims and exploited vulnerable students willing to pay tens of thousands for Mr. Trump’s insights." Does it sound worse than how the media has presented Hillary for the last couple of decades?

Goal Thermometer
One sales manager for Trump University, Ronald Schnackenberg, recounted how he was reprimanded for not pushing a financially struggling couple hard enough to sign up for a $35,000 real estate class, despite his conclusion that it would endanger their economic future. He watched with disgust, he said, as a fellow Trump University salesman persuaded the couple to purchase the class anyway.

“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” Mr. Schnackenberg wrote in his testimony, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”

For Mr. Trump, whose presidential campaign hinges on his reputation as a businessman, the newly unsealed documents offer an unflattering snapshot of his career since branching out, over the past decade, from building skyscrapers into endeavors that cashed in on his name to sell everything from water and steaks to ties and education.

...The most striking documents were written testimony from former employees of Trump University who said they had become disenchanted with the university’s tactics and culture. Corrine Sommer, an event manager, recounted how colleagues encouraged students to open up as many credit cards as possible to pay for classes that many of them could not afford.

“It’s O.K., just max out your credit card,” Ms. Sommer recalled their saying.

Jason Nicholas, a sales executive at Trump University, recalled a deceptive pitch used to lure students-- that Mr. Trump would be “actively involved” in their education. “This was not true,” Mr. Nicholas testified, saying Mr. Trump was hardly involved at all. Trump University, Mr. Nicholas concluded, was “a facade, a total lie.”

...Trump had fought Tuesday’s release of previously sealed documents in the case. In an apparent attempt to discredit the judge in the case, Gonzalo P. Curiel, Mr. Trump called him [at a campaign event, no less] biased and a “hater of Donald Trump,” and he sought to draw attention to the judge’s ethnic background-- “we believe Mexican,” Mr. Trump said. (Mr. Curiel was born in Indiana; he is of Mexican descent.)
If he becomes president, maybe he could open up the "school" again and teach all kinds of courses. Statistics might be a popular class, using videos like this one:

Will all this be enough to persuade skeptical voters that Trump really is worse than Clinton? They're hardly typical voters but Fortune 500 CEOs are convinced. 58% favor Clinton to 42% for Trump. The survey didn't ask about Bernie, but this probably isn't his demo anyway.
Big company CEOs tend to lean heavily Republican. But most of the 500 operate on a global scale, and many disagree with Trump’s proposals for raising trade barriers. Some also have been rattled by his stance on immigration, or by his comments showing little understanding of public finance. For instance, Trump told CNBC that if interest rates rose significantly, “we can buy back government debt at a discount”-- a statement that ignores the fact that the government would have to borrow money at higher interest rates to buy back old debt, making any such transaction a wash for the government.

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