|Who will fill these seats in the West Wing?|
Two months after his upset electoral (not popular) victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, President-elect Donald Trump shows no signs of mellowing, facing reality or moving to the political center. It appears the Trump we saw on the campaign trail is the same Trump we'll see in the White House.
His post-election speech vowing to be president for all Americans is ringing hollow. The people he has chosen to surround himself with have serious questions about their positions and past actions.
Starting with Sen. Jeff Sessions, who will undergo a quick and hearing startingTuesday (Jan. 10) for Attorney General. The nominees to be key advisers to the President-elect will begin the Senate's Judiciary Committee hearing next week. The GOP-dominated committee is limiting the Democrats only four witnesses and a quick two-days for their hearings. A plethora of civil rights groups have expressed their dismay at the Republican rules to counter any protests. Democratic Senators seem powerless to overrule the GOP.
His Asian/American choices are stirring up criticism from the AAPI community, starting with Elaine Chao, picked to become the Secretary of Transportation. According to the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Chao's pending appointment shows poor leadership and accountability to the working families and the American people.
APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester commented: “If Chao’s time as Labor Secretary is any indication of what she’ll bring to the table as Transportation Secretary, then we can expect a term that parlays with corporate interest rather than the safety of the people and the environment.”
Chao is the third Asian American woman appointee in the Trump Administration, following Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Seema Verma, the founder of health policy consulting firm, as the head for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Hester continued: “We refuse to let the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community be a racial wedge group. These women have built their careers on creating policies that serve only the most privileged. They do not accurately represent our diverse AAPI community – a community of immigrants, the poor, the underserved.”
“This is a different political climate. This is not business as usual. As people build their strategies for the first hundred days or the next four years, we must not conflate access or a seat at the table with actual power to influence policy or decision makers,” added APALA Executive Director Gregory A. Cendana on the so-called “diversity picks” in a predominately white administration. “These newest appointees – alongside Price, Devos, Sessions, and Bannon – continue to shape a Trump administration that undermines the values so central to our communities and the fabric of our country.”
Sessions is only the first of many hearings that will challenge the Democrats and communities of color who have become more integrated into the American fabric in the last 70 years.
Stephen Bannon as the chief White House strategist is on equal footing as the Chief of Staff. As the CEO of Breightbart News, he has promoted alt-right philosophies and made white nationalism acceptable to the moderate white mainstream. “The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy. The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as Trump's National Security Advisor: Nothing subtle about the retired general, an extreme anti-Islam crusader who once claimed that the Democrats wanted to institute Sharia law in Florida, a complete fabrication that he repeated over and over again in speeches across the country. Before millions of television viewers, Flynn led the chants of a raucous crowd during his speech endorsing Donald Trump. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Damn right! Exactly right!” Flynn encouraged the chanting crowd. “There is nothing wrong with that!” He was prematurely retired at age 56 because of his disruptive management style and his repeated digs at the Obama White House from his position at the Defense Intelligence Agency, his last posting. Recently, several news agencies revealed that he met several weeks ago with Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party, which was founded after World War II by former Nazis. Ugh!
Rick Perry, former Texas governor, has been picked to head the Department of Energy. Do you think he'll favor fossil fuel over alternative energy sources such as the wind, geothermal or the sun? Outside of taking oil money for his various campaigns and giving tax payer's money to subsidize the oil industry, Perry has had no experience on the subject. His two predecessors were physicists. Four years ago, he wanted to do away with the entire department of energy.
Steven Mnuchin, formerly with Goldman Sachs, has been picked to be the next Treasury Secretary. He co-founded a bank, OneWest, in 2008 and lead the company until 2015, Fortune reported. Now, OneWest is being sued for allegedly discriminating against black and Latino customers, according to a complaint filed this month by two fair housing advocacy groups. The complaint alleges the bank "kept bank branches out of nonwhite neighborhoods" and gave nonwhite customers disproportionately fewer mortgages, Fortune wrote. Between 2012 and 2013, the California bank gave zero loans to black customers in Los Angeles. He made billions over the past decades buying up companies and slashing payrolls.
Trump picked another billionaire, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., for Commerce Secretary. He made his billions using bankruptcy to protect wealthy owners while leaving workers and communities holding the bag. (Example in point: the collapse of Trump’s casino empire.) I don't see how this expertise translates into negotiating treaties. In fact, this strategy loses jobs, not creating new jobs. Foreign countries are not inefficient corporations. Threats will irk countries like China and could lead to trade wars which is not good for business. Trump needs to learn that treaties are not negotiated with winners and losers in mind. Treaties try to have a win-win outcome. Sometimes treaties have broader goals in mind, like keeping China's power and influence in check and helping countries with smaller economies from yielding to China's military intimidation.
You might as well start carving a headstone for Medicare if Rep. Mick Mulvaney takes over the Office of Management and Budget. The Tea Party hawk calls Medicare a "ponzi scheme" wants to privatize the only healthcare insurance depended on by millions of senior citizens. He relentlessly argued that cutting retirement programs like Medicare was the only way to “balance the budget,” the Tea Party call to arms. He hasn't been shy about calling for a drastic refashioning of Medicare. Of course, as a well-heeled congressional representative for South Carolina, he doesn't have to depend on Medicare in his old age. Members of Congress have a life-long medical plan, even when they are through serving in the House or Senate.
One thing the billionaires and politicians on this list have in common. They would probably prefer to dismantle the agencies they are being entrusted with. Putting such examples of anti-government people in charge of government could be disastrous. They could very well undo Franklin Roosevelt's safeguards for the poor and most vulnerable, shrink the middle class and threaten the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.