Trump’s cabinet picks should concern everyone who is not a billionaire (Jan 2017)


By Cat Whipple

Being a daily Facebook user, I read lots of anti-Trump (and some pro-Trump) posts. It’s alarming for me to see pro-Trump people telling us to “get over it” and “we won, you lost, move on” as though this were a football game. It’s scary to me, and many others, that the pro-Trump people don’t see how dangerous this man is to almost every group in the U.S., except for the very rich. There are many reasons for concern on the civil liberties end, as well as the environmental side.

Trump has continually trashed the press, calling them liars and propaganda machines for the left. During his campaign Trump blacklisted several news outlets and threatened legal actions against other news organizations. He has been quoted as saying he would like to “open up those libel laws” in order to sue papers who write negative things about him, and that he could “make lots of money.” Trump is a danger to the freedom of the press. And freedom of the press is crucial to a democratic society.

Trump ran on a promise to “drain the swamp” of political insiders and lobbyists. But he is now expanding the swamp and stocking it with even bigger and meaner alligators. According to the Washington Post, “Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Trump of trying to seat a “rigged Cabinet” of nominees who “have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating.”

Some of his cabinet picks that should be cause for alarm include:

  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – Sessions is Trump’s pick for Attorney General. According to the Washington Post, “In 1986, a Senate committee denied Sessions, then a 39-year-old U.S. attorney in Alabama, a federal judgeship. His former colleagues testified Sessions used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” Sessions has called civil rights groups “unAmerican” and “Communist-inspired, ” saying that they are trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people.”
  • Betsy DeVos – DeVos has been named for Secretary of Education. A billionaire and former Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan, as well as chair of the pro-school-choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, DeVos has been working to pass laws that require the use of public funds to pay for private school tuition in the form of vouchers and similar programs. Her overall goal seems to be the using of taxpayer dollars for private and religious schools, and putting Christianity back in schools. She also supports anti-gay causes, including “conversion therapy” aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation.
  • Georgia Congressman Tom Price – Price, who would be in control of Health and Human Services, wants to privatize Medicare and get rid of Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times, Cecile Richards (president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America) said that Price, “poses a grave threat to women’s health” and that as health secretary he “could take women back decades.”
  • Scott Pruitt – Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a skeptic of climate change. He has repeatedly sued the EPA in an effort to push back regulations aimed at reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. And he has worked to overturn clean air and water rules. On his Linked In page, Pruitt brags about being “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” Pruitt is no friend to Mother Earth, and his leading the EPA is akin to a fox saying he will make sure the hen house is protected.
  • Goldman Sachs – While on the campaign trail, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for doing a speaking engagement for Goldman Sachs. But he has now opened the White House doors and invited Goldman Sachs in. Steven Mnuchin is his pick for Treasury Secretary. Mnuchin spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs. On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Mnuchin was quoted as saying, “We’re going to cut corporate taxes … we’re going to get to 15 percent.” Steve Bannon (a White Supremacist), who spent his early career at the bank, is Trump’s chief strategist. And Anthony Scaramucci, who also worked at Goldman Sachs, is one of Trump’s top transition advisers. In other words, the Trump administration will focus on cutting taxes for the rich, and weakening bank regulations that protect everyday people.
  • Rex Tillerson – ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been tapped for Secretary of State. Tillerson lead the way for ExxonMobil’s partnerships with a Russian energy company and has close ties to President Vladimir Putin, who gave him the Russian Order of Friendship. Given that the Russians hacked Clinton’s emails and helped Trump win the election, any ties that Tillerson has with Russia should be cause for great alarm.
    Not only that, Tillerson has been fighting for ExxonMobil’s interest for decades. Ken Kimmell, the president of Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement that the choice of Tillerson was analogous to choosing the CEO of a tobacco company for surgeon general because of his conflicts of interest. “Why would you pick the leader of an oil and gas corporation to spearhead a position tasked with national security and global climate action?” he asked. (The Guardian.)
  • The military in civilian positions – Trump has named three retired generals to top posts in cabinet-level positions. Retired four-star Marine general John Kelly has been picked to head the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration and border control, among other issues. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis was named as defense secretary. And retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was chosen as national security adviser.

One more three- or four-star general given a senior appointment, and we can start referring to a Trump junta rather than a Trump administration,” retired Army lieutenant colonel and military scholar Andrew Bacevich was quoted as saying by Time magazine. The Trump administration will not be business as usual. With his cabinet picks it is clear that corporations, banks, and millionaires will have a “yuge” say in our government’s policies and laws. And this does not bode well for the average citizen or for the environment.