Common Sense Blog: Trump Update #1
The first rule of relationships is to make judgments not from words but from actions. Since President-elect Trump has yet to be sworn in and have any real power, we can only judge his incoming administration from his past actions and his cabinet choices, especially his domestic appointees.
Having declared that he will come to Washington and “drain the swamp” by booting career politicians, we can only conclude that if his current course is kept, the swamp merely moved into the White House with yet more crocodiles.
Trump’s cabinet is filling up with career politicians and business-men/women who have either typical allegiances to Republican conservative ideology or whose business experience is business first-business second-everything and everyone else last. How so? (My commentary in italics):
Vice President Mike Pence:
Staunch conservative Republican politician and a lawyer.
He was a governor not part of the congressional “swamp” but kindred to all conservatives there as well. He was chosen, in fact, for his establishment credentials.
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus:
Former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a lawyer.
He’s about as establishment as they come.
Chief Strategist and Senior Counsel Stephen K. Bannon:
Prior to involvement with extreme-right Breitbart news, he was an executive with Goldman Sachs, a businessman, and media executive.
Obviously a social and business conservative voice, and one suspect because of his extreme right-wing views.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
Conservative senator from Alabama.
Sen. Sessions is well-known for his criticism of the current Justice Dept. and is considered a strong law-and-order candidate whose 1986 judgeship was denied for racially-charged comments.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:
Exxon Mobil CEO.
Tillerson has had extensive dealings with Russia. His background is in the oil business with no experience in government. Both his ability to deal with sensitive international negotiations and his allegiance to American interests is suspect as Exxon Mobil makes a great deal of money in contracts with Russia. Can he act appropriately according to national security matters if it means antagonizing the Russians? Will he be open-minded about the risks of climate change? This is the most important cabinet position vis a vis the United States voice to the world. This choice appears compromised from the get-go.
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin:
Successful banker and partner for 17 years at Goldman Sachs. He owned OneWest Bank that foreclosed on thousands when the housing crisis hit. (CNN: 11/29/16.)
Here’s the fox guarding the hen house. How is he going to implement appropriate regulations on his buddies in the banking industry?
Secretary of Labor Andy Puzder:
CEO of a restaurant conglomerate. A lawyer. Known for criticizing Obama’s worker protections efforts such as healthcare and sick leave. (L.A Times:12/8/16) He has expressed opposition to significant raises in the minimum wage and to the overtime rule.
With his management background, can he help protect workers where they need it?
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross:
Investor and businessman famous for being a "turnaround artist" who has acquired failing businesses and made them profitable.
As a billionaire investor, how is he going to champion small business?
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry:
Former governor of Texas. Well-known for vowing to eliminate this very department in the 2012 presidential race, Perry is a lifelong politician who is currently on the board of two petroleum companies.
Unlike his scientist predecessors, can he be knowledgeable enough and open-minded about our energy future, or will he simply be a rubber stamp for the oil lobby? Will he sabotage the department entirely? These are two important questions to be considered.
Secretary of the Interior Cathy McMorris Rodgers:
Congresswoman from Washington’s 5th Congressional District and the highest ranking Republican woman in congress. She is known to support opening the Atlantic Ocean for drilling, has fought efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, and has sought to expand logging.
Another fox guarding the hen house?
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson:
Famous neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate.
No experience whatsoever for this post.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:
Former Chairwoman of the American Federation for Children and a well-known fierce advocate for school vouchers/choice and critic of public education.
Trump wants to downgrade this cabinet position. Perhaps he’s found his hatchet-person. But, will federal protections for education be lost?
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price:
Representative from Georgia's 6th congressional district. Former orthopedic surgeon.
He’s been a vocal member of the Republican congress that desperately wanted to kill Obamacare. But what will he seek to replace it with?
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao:
Former Labor Secretary and wife of Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Serves on several corporate boards, including Wells-Fargo. (Time:12/26/16)
Experienced government establishment bureaucrat well-connected with Big Business. Again, can she advocate for the needs of the average American?
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt:
Oklahoma State Attorney General who is known for questioning the science of global warming, his connections to oil and gas companies, and his efforts to fight federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions and Clean Water Act regulations.
Another hen house, another fox guarding it.
Out of these fifteen domestic cabinet choices there are:
- Five career politicians
- One major party functionary
- Five lawyers
- Four billionaires
- Five businessmen (bankers, CEOs, investors)
- Two physicians
- One state government official
- One former cabinet secretary
- One former foundation chairwoman
This is not the outsider government Trump promised. It is not a drained swamp. In fact, there are too many foxes guarding too many hen houses.
THE CENTRIST VIEW:
President-elect Trump is fulfilling the usual swing to the right that accompanies Republican administrations. He may have a unique style of speaking and showboating, but the result is the same: Big Business runs the show. Where Obama headed Big Government, we will now see that disabled in favor of business rising to the top. Education, labor, energy, and the environment may very well suffer from privatization and de-regulation. Business will do well for the rich, but for the rest of us, in job creation, education, and especially in the environment, we will suffer.
As one insider GOP consultant said about Trump’s cabinet choices: “It shows [that] he’s going to govern like a normal Republican.” (Time: 12/26/16) So, if history is any guide, this is what we can expect from President Donald Trump and his Republican cabinet/Congress (and I hope that I’m wrong):
1) Lowered taxes will yield less revenue and prompt the government to shut down important social programs.
2) The rich will not use their lowered personal and corporate taxes to create American jobs. They may still remain overseas where it’s cheaper to produce, bring products back here, and entice Americans to buy on credit (which they’ll have to do because incomes will not go up).
3) We will wind up in a shooting war somewhere that will not make the world safer but will inevitably cause these results:
a) More young American soldiers will be placed in harms way.
b) The economy will be dragged down by the unfunded nature of the military expenditures.
c) The military-industrialists will get richer, and they will continue to invest millions in campaign contributions (hard and soft) to ensure the election of a Congress and a president who will keep this gravy train going.
4) President Trump will have difficulty separating himself from businessman Trump and his self-serving policies may not be in the best interests of the nation as a whole.
We can only prevent this by keeping close watch on just what decisions are made and how they affect the average American. And, we can work to build a Centrist Party that can be a successful alternative to either Republican or Democratic ideologies.
In a future post I will compare indicators such as Unemployment Rate, National Debt, Budget Deficit, Trade Deficit, and Inflation from previous administrations. These can be a baseline from which we can evaluate the efforts of the incoming Trump administration. Also, we can look at foreign affairs such as troop deployments, etc. to gauge the effectiveness or lack thereof of policies that affect all of us.
As citizens we must be vigilant and involved. Your comments are welcome.