Hours before handpicking yet another veteran of Goldman Sachs to join his Cabinet, bringing the total to three from the New York investment bank, President-elect Donald Trump mocked people worrying about the makeup of his inner circle.
“I believe we’re in the process of putting together one of the great cabinets that has ever been assembled in the history of our nation,” he said in Iowa. We doubt that.
Elections do have consequences. Voters gave Trump a majority of the electoral votes. But we’ve watched as the incoming president has nominated tycoons, generals, campaign donors, and inexperienced but smart people. The Republican-controlled Senate must exercise its power of advise and consent by investigating the nominees. Senators must put the country ahead of party loyalty and, where appropriate, reject Trump’s nominees.
Let’s review some of his selections. Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, who would be secretary of state, has never served in government, but is intelligent and experienced at running a large entity. Exxon’s revenue surpasses that of many nations. But he’s also close with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, which is problematic.
Tillerson’s holdings will create complications. As The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Exxon’s board of directors is considering whether to grant him $175 million in stock compensation as he retires. Exxon’s stock has been rising since Trump’s election and spiked upward on the news of Tillerson’s selection. We urge senators to fully vet the man who would be the nation’s top diplomat.
But there are others. The president-elect has nominated as labor secretary Andrew Puzder, who doesn’t want to expand eligibility for overtime pay and is against raising the minimum wage, and whose fast-food chain favors TV commercials with women scarfing down burgers.
To run the Treasury Department, Trump selected Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive who profited off the subprime mortgage mess and became a Hollywood financier.
Gary Cohn, who would lead Trump’s National Economic Council, touted the benefits of moving jobs from U.S. financial centers to cheaper areas such as Singapore during his years as president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs.
Linda McMahon, a co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment nominated to run the Small Business Administration, spent $7.5 million to elect Trump.
According to The Washington Post, Trump’s Cabinet nominees and appointments donated $11.6 million to his presidential bid, and to related super PACs and the Republican National Committee. So much for draining the swamp. And so much for Hillary Clinton being the one in the pocket of Wall Street.
It doesn’t stop there. Rick Perry, Trump’s selection as energy secretary, has plenty of experience, having served 15 years as Texas governor, and in various other elected posts dating to 1985. He forgot to remember in his 2012 presidential run that he wanted to the abolish the Energy Department he will lead, assuming the Senate confirms him.
Tom Price, nominated for health and human services secretary, wants to replace Obamacare with something market driven, no doubt yanking health insurance from millions poor of Americans in red states.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, selected to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, doesn’t believe in human-caused climate change and wants to roll back regulations protecting people from exposure to carbon emissions and industrial pollution – the same Trump supporters in red states who stand to lose health coverage.
Betsy DeVos, a GOP megadonor and charter school advocate, will lead the U.S. Department of Education, but has never run a school, and didn’t attend public schools or send her children to public schools.
We had hoped Trump would recognize the gaps in his knowledge and surround himself with qualified people who could help him govern ethically and effectively. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
With so many CEOs in charge, the potential for double-dealing the American public is rife. And without an unlikely intervention from the Senate to block some of these nominees, many voters who supported Trump, hoping their livelihoods would improve with new jobs and better pay, will be the ones who will suffer most.