Politics

Trump’s Cabinet Takes Shape

President-elect compiles diverse set of appointees with aim firmly set on campaign promises

President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet is taking shape, and so far it seems to be a motley crew of businessmen and financiers, populist loyalists, and both established and less familiar Republicans tapped for specific expertise.

Although Trump has angered some of his supporters by including insiders, he is assembling a team that has the ability to deliver on his campaign promises and turn his agenda into successful policy.

“Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, is just another Wall Street insider.”

Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, has raised some concerns among anti-Wall Street elements of Trump’s base due to his former career as a partner at Goldman Sachs. Even Trump’s enemies have accused him of hypocrisy for his choosing Mnuchin.

“During the campaign, Donald Trump told the American people that he was going to change Washington by taking on Wall Street. Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, is just another Wall Street insider,” Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.

“That is not the type of change that Donald Trump promised to bring to Washington — that is hypocrisy at its worst,” they said. But Trump’s supporters would be unwise to discount Mnuchin merely because of his past employment.

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The fact is that anyone tasked with taking helm of the Treasury at this moment in time simply must have intimate experience and knowledge of the current financial system. Moreover, Mnuchin was an early and ardent supporter of Trump and his message — it would be foolish to consider that support anything but sincere until and unless Mnuchin proves otherwise.

Wilbur Ross, Trump’s selection for secretary of commerce, has also raised eyebrows among some of Trump’s more populist supporters due to his history as a banker and experience as an investor.

But Ross was also an early, vocal supporter of Trump’s, and his knowledge of, and experience in, multiple industries — from coal to textiles to telecommunications — will be vital to fulfilling his role at the Department of Commerce.

Elaine Chao, Trump’s selection for secretary of transportation, while not a career financier, is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While Chao’s close connection to the stalwart Establishment Republican leader might give many of Trump’s supporters pause, she has extensive experience, having served as both deputy secretary of transportation under George H.W. Bush and secretary of labor under George W. Bush — a perfect combination to aid Trump in squeezing funds out of Congress to rebuild U.S. infrastructure.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education, and Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, should inspire no fear in Trump’s populist supporters. The two not only have little Establishment baggage, but are also both experts in their fields and well-equipped to see Trump’s policy objectives fulfilled. DeVos is perhaps the most prominent proponent of school choice in the country, while Price is an experienced orthopedic surgeon who has served on the Health subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Then there is Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, who has long been a populist voice in the GOP and was an early and staunch supporter of Trump’s candidacy. The knowledge that he is to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official should put to rest any fears that Trump’s more Establishment-friendly picks signal a betrayal of his campaign’s populist platform.

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Of course, many Trump voters are more worried about one specific person that Trump may pick for his cabinet than about any of the people he has already chosen — Mitt Romney. Romney is a clear front-runner for secretary of state, a fact that has angered many of Trump’s supporters. It’s easy to understand why the idea of Romney, a man who went far out of his way to attack Trump during the campaign, in a cabinet position would alarm Trump’s fiercest supporters.

However, it’s also easy to see the advantages of a Romney pick — Romney is a widely respected figure and his appointment would be an obvious olive branch to the Establishment wing of the GOP that tried so hard to sink Trump’s campaign — and a sign that Trump is serious in his calls for unity. Whomever Trump decides to choose to serve as his secretary of state, the individuals he has already chosen to fill other cabinet positions suggest it will be a wise decision, and only benefit a cabinet which is already poised to be one of the most competent in recent memory.

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