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Ron Insana: PayPal Billionaire Peter Thiel Is Wrong to Back Trump

Ron Insana: PayPal Billionaire Peter Thiel Is Wrong to Back Trump

(Getty/Joe Raedle)

By    |   Wednesday, 02 November 2016 02:55 PM



CNBC’s Ron Insana warns that PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel is totally misguided in his faith in Donald Trump and his disdain of Hillary Clinton.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and gay billionaire Peter Thiel backed up his million-dollar-plus donation to Trump with a full-throated endorsement of the GOP nominee at a speech at the National Press Club on Monday.

Thiel said the nation needs a political outsider to fix its systemic problems.

“What Trump represents isn’t crazy and it isn’t going away,” Thiel said Monday at the National Press Club in Washington. Expensive wars, spiraling student debt and trade imbalances are among the top challenges for the country that haven’t been solved by mainstream politicians who suggest the U.S. is moving in a good direction. “We are voting for Trump because we judge the leadership of our country has failed.”

Thiel, a Facebook Inc. board member who co-founded PayPal and Palantir Technologies Inc., has been a political lightning rod this election season, attracting scorn from Silicon Valley leaders who almost uniformly oppose the Republican presidential nominee.

Insana wrote in his  CNBC.com blog that Thiel’s “most provocative claim, that Secretary Clinton is more likely to lead us into war, flies in the face of comments made by Trump himself.” 

Insana explains that Trump “has promised to smash ISIS and re-invest heavily in the American military. He reportedly asked military advisers that if we have nuclear weapons, why couldn't we use them?”

“That is hardly the stuff of diplomacy. Further, he has called NATO, the most successful military alliance in the history of the world, obsolete and suggested that unless NATO members pay more for the umbrella defense provided by the shield, they will be forced to defend themselves,” Insana said. 

“Further, in the absence of more financial contributions, Trump also suggested that Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan, should protect themselves, even to the point of acquiring nuclear bombs, widening the risk of massive nuclear proliferation and raising the risk of an atomic war,” Insana said.

“Trump's economic plans, while ‘growthier’ than those of Secretary Clinton, would, by non-partisan accounts, add trillions to the national debt, reduce, rather than enhance, employment and could lead to an outright trade war with every U.S. partner from Mexico to China,” Insana said. 

Thiel, who also gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, said he, too, disapproved of Trump's lewd comments about women that surfaced when an 11-year-old videotape was leaked a few weeks ago. "Nobody thinks his comments about women were acceptable; I agree they were clearly offensive and inappropriate," Thiel said.

"But I don't think voters pull the lever in order to endorse a candidate's flaws. It's not a lack of judgment that leads Americans to vote for Trump; we're voting for Trump because we judge the leadership of our country to have failed."

Insana, however, argues that just because you are disgusted with the status quo, don't give the ball to someone with a checkered past, at best.

“While Mr. Thiel has suggested that the government needs to run more like a business, there is not a lot of wisdom, in my humble opinion, in that oft-repeated mantra. Business and government cannot operate in the same manner, as their goals are wildly different,” Insana said.

“Businesses are incorporated to serve a need, but the motive is profit. Government exists to create a social, economic and political order, or framework, in which individuals and businesses can function,” Insana said.

Silicon Valley investors, executives and academics -- people who donated heavily to elect Democrat Barack Obama in the past two presidential elections -- oppose Trump for a number of reasons, calling out his rhetoric about women and immigrants as discriminatory and sexist. Leaders in technology also have said Trump would be a potential “disaster for innovation” if he won the White House.

Despite the criticism, Thiel has steadily increased his support, including speaking on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention and recently donating $1.25 million to his campaign.

“The need to make government more efficient, to align outcomes with incentives is a noble one and one with which I agree. Rooting out corruption is necessary, as well. But there is no evidence that Mr. Trump's business history would lead to any of those outcomes. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, but Mr. Trump's track record is not among the most distinguished in business history.”

(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).


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CNBC's Ron Insana warns that PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel is totally misguided in his faith in Donald Trump and his disdain of Hillary Clinton.
ron insana, peter thiel, donald trump, hillary clinton
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 02:55 PM
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