Establishment Dominates List of Candidates to Replace Priebus
'America First' economic analysts warn Trump considering anti-populist options for White House
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a significant White House shakeup that could see a new chief of staff installed in the West Wing.
In addition to the possibility of replacing Reince Priebus, the restructuring of White House leadership could see “the departure of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon,” veteran journalist Mike Allen reported in Axios on Friday.
“These rumored choices would appear to take the president farther away from an America-First approach.”
According to Allen, White House insiders claim there are four leading contenders to replace Priebus. The supposed shortlist, however, is bound to make Trump’s populist base extremely nervous — especially in light of the possibility that Bannon could step down — as each name carries significant ties to Establishment globalist policies.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
Although McCarthy was an early supporter of Trump during the primaries, it can hardly be said his decision was motivated by any sort of populist opposition to the Establishment.
The House Majority Leader was a leading voice in the efforts to grant President Obama fast-track authority over treaty authorization in order to force the widely opposed TPP on the American people and their economy.
When it appeared that Democrats from McCarthy’s home state were primed to sink fast-track authority, McCarthy enthusiastically attacked them on Obama’s behalf.
“California Democrats in the House now appear ready to leave the president out to dry on one of the biggest pieces of his economic agenda,” he said.
“McCarthy may be a decent politician, but he has no grand vision — just a series of regular Republican talking points about how the ‘three cuts, taxes, regulation, and entitlements,’ will liberate the creative powers of the U.S. economy,” said Kevin Kearns, president of the U.S. Business & Industry Council, to LifeZette.
“He is a doctrinaire free trader without any conception that the rest of the world is not playing by free-trade rules but is grabbing every available technology and manufacturing job it can by whatever means it can,” Kearns continued.
Berman is about as Establishment as one can get. Indeed, rather than draining the “swamp,” Trump’s hiring Berman would be the equivalent of giving the job to someone who owns prime real estate on the mores of the swamp.
“Berman is a swamp creature and completely the wrong person to bring about radical economic change,” said Kearns. Berman, a multimillionaire who currently works at private equity firm The Blackstone Group, was the assistant secretary of commerce during the George H.W. Bush administration.
He then served as a senior advisor to the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004. In 2012 he was a major fundraiser for Mitt Romney’s failed campaign, and in 2016 he was the national finance chairman of the Rubio campaign.
Throughout his entire career, Berman has worked closely with the precise people to whose globalist politics Trump’s presidency was supposed to be the antidote.
Urban is considered the best option for populist-conservatives on the list of reported candidates. Urban is a longtime Republican lobbyist whose work was crucial in helping the Trump campaign win in Pennsylvania, and thus helped secure Trump the presidency.
Urban is not without his question marks for Trump supporters. He served as chief of staff for Sen. Arlen Specter a thoroughly Establishment lawmaker known for being a Democrat (1951-1965), then a moderate Republican (1965-2009), and then a Democrat again (2009-2012).
“I only know of Urban slightly,” said Kearns, but “he is also a swamp creature, a ‘top lobbyist.’ Specter was also an ideological free trader, and Urban served as his chief of staff.”
Cohn is Trump’s chief economic advisor and director of the National Economic Council, and so far in the administration he has been an advocate against the economic prescriptions of the conservative-populists who propelled Trump into power.
Cohn is the former president and COO of Goldman Sachs, the multinational finance company known for its dedication to globalist causes and the bucketloads of money it gave Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In addition to having been in charge of a firm that many right-wing populists hold up as a prime example of everything wrong with globalization, Cohn also happened to be a lifelong Democrat. He switched only in 2016 after Trump, a close friend, entered the presidential race as a Republican.
Cohn is also said to be Trump senior adviser, and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s main ally, if not partner, in the effort to diminish the role of populist stalwart Steve Bannon.
“Cohn is a New York City finance guy,” noted Kearns. “He does not understand trade, manufacturing and technology. In fact, Wall Street in general (not Cohn in particular, although perhaps) has encouraged a generation of American manufacturing to move to China,” he said.
“These rumored choices would appear to take the president further away from an America-First approach,” said economist Alan Tonelson, founder of RealityChek, an economics and national security blog.
But “Trump has little choice in this regard,” Tonelson told LifeZette. “The numbers of Americans who either have significant policy experience, or who know the policy process well, and who take an America-First perspective on either economic or foreign policy is paltry,” explained Tonelson.
"So the rosters of leading candidates for all of the Executive Branch appointments that the president can make, as well as for whatever replacements of original choices that he eventually names, are always going to be dominated by conventional thinkers," said Tonelson. "This problem is going to dog the president throughout this term."
Kearns said the president will need to find and maintain "America First" voices in his inner circle if he is to deliver on key campaign pledges.
Unfortunately, "Trump needs economic nationalists in the first rank of his advisors if he is to succeed on his campaign promises — and thus be a successful president," said Kearns. "Sending Bannon and economic nationalism into oblivion will not accomplish that goal," Kearns said.
"If they are banished, an administration formed by staffing decisions made by Cohn, Kushner, McCarthy, Berman or Urban will be very different from one staffed by the team and issues that brought Trump to power," he said.