Friday, December 9, 2016

Trump's priorities revealed in his words and deeds

Trump’s plans for our country are taking shape rather rapidly. He continues to spout broad generalities to elicit adulation from the masses - many without any implementational details - but his personnel actions concretely show his priorities. I’ll start with the military build-up (and I think that is what is headed our way).

Trump promises more for U. S. military

The Fayetteville Observer reports on the Victory rally speech by President-elect Donald Trump in Fayetteville.

President-elect Donald Trump told an enthusiastic crowd Tuesday night his administration will seek to rebuild the military, take better care of its veterans and revive a limping national economy.

Speaking to an audience of about 7,000 people at the Crown Coliseum, the next commander in chief vowed in his first budget recommendation to end the automatic military budget cuts known as sequester.

“We will have such a strong military,” said Trump, who gave shoutouts to the 82nd Airborne Division and Fort Bragg, the largest military post in the U.S. “It’s not going to be depleted any longer.”

"We will have the finest equipment in the world. It will be new. It’s going to be modern. It’s going to be clean.”

Trump also introduced retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, whom he will nominate to be the next defense secretary. Known for his nickname “Mad Dog,” the 66-year-old Mattis has criticized Washington’s handling of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and fighting in the Middle East.

Trump’s promise to make America’s Military Great Again was not widely reported - at least not that I could find in my searches but it is important because it signals one of Trump’s firm priorities.

The other military nomination, so far, is Retired General John Kelly for Homeland Security. A third military appointment is Retired General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor.

And then there is everything else

I had planned to write this post pulling together all the cabinet nominations and appointments to date. But Steve Benen (MSNBC/Maddow Blog) beat me to it. So here’s most of Benen’s post, Trump nominees at odds with the agencies they’ll soon lead

… Donald Trump announced his choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday, and the president-elect chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who is effectively a caricature of a ridiculous EPA nominee.

But aside from his hand-in-glove relationship with the oil industry, note Pruitt’s Bolton-esque problem when it comes to the EPA. As Rachel noted on the show last night:

“If you were not really sure about what he thinks about the EPA, which the Trump administration is going to put him in charge of, this is a line out of his official state bio. [Pruitt] brags, ‘Scott Pruitt is a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.’

“A leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda. He will now be in charge of the EPA’s activist agenda. You kind of have to admire the gumption on this one.”

So the good news is, Trump’s nominee is neither a billionaire nor an amateur with no background in public service. The bad news is, Pruitt fundamentally rejects the work of the department he’ll soon lead.

And while that’s as disheartening as it is bizarre, this keeps happening.

Jeff Sessions was nominated for Attorney General despite his record of hostility towards civil rights.

Betsy DeVos was nominated for Education Secretary despite her opposition towards public schools.

Ben Carson was nominated for Housing and Urban Development Secretary despite his hostility towards the Fair Housing Act.

Tom Price was nominated for Health and Human Services Secretary despite his opposition to programs that provide health security to millions of Americans.

If the rumors are true – and I’ll have more on this later today – Trump is also poised to nominate a Labor Secretary who makes little effort to hide his contempt for labor laws.

Here’s more on Trump’s Likely Labor Pick, Andrew Puzder, Is Critic of Minimum Wage Increases.

President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor, people close to the transition said on Thursday.

Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.

So that is one more nominee who is openly contemptuous of the agency he is nominated to lead.

Benen asks “The pattern is hard to miss, isn’t it?”

So who’s is left? Here is the list of the rest.

Elaine Chao – Secretary of Transportation. Chao, 63, served as Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009 under George W. Bush. She was also Director of the Peace Corp. from 1991 to 1992 under George H.W. Bush. Chao was the first Asian American woman to hold a cabinet-level position in 2001 as Secretary of Labor.

Nikki Haley – U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, 44, was the first woman Trump appointed to his Cabinet. She is the third consecutive female to hold this position.“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said in a release Wednesday. “She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

Wilbur Ross – Secretary of Commerce. The 79-year-old investor has helped companies in the coal, steel, telecommunications and textile industries. Ross is worth $2.9 billion, according to Forbes in 2014.

Steven Mnuchin – Secretary of Treasury. The Yale graduate worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years and left the company in 2002. The 53-year-old has a net worth of $40 million and will be the third former Goldman Sachs employee to hold the Secretary of Treasury position.

Mike Pompeo – CIA Director. Pompeo, 52, was born in California and has served as the U.S. Representative for Kansas’s 4th congressional district for five years. He was a Kansas representative on the Republican National Committee. He is pro-life and a lifelong supporter of the NRA.

Reince Priebus – White House Chief of Staff. The 44-year-old was born in New Jersey. He is an attorney and Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin from 2007 to 2011.

Stephen Bannon – Chief Strategist. Bannon was born in Virginia and helped create conservative site Breitbart. He served in the U.S. Navy and also worked at Goldman Sachs.

Yet to be named are Secretaries of State, Interior, Agriculture, Energy, and Veterans Affairs. Other cabinet-level positions are OMB, Trade, and Chair of Economic Advisory Council.

Looking ahead

Who wins and who loses? Clearly, the military is looking to grow. Business is favored. The list of likely losers includes civil rights, education, health, HUD, and labor.

I will venture some guesses about others. Interior? An anti-animal, pro-development choice. Energy? Anti-renewable, pro-fossil-fuel pick.

How about the sick, the poor, the very young, the very old, and those of the white working-class who voted for Trump? It’s hard to see anything in Trump’s likely administration that would lend those segments of our society any real benefit.

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