Trump University. Trump Steaks. Trump Airlines. Trump Taj Mahal. Trump Vodka. Trump Mortgage. These businesses (and several others) all have two things in common: Donald Trump and failure. Each venture was poorly conceived and poorly executed, bungled by a man who claims to be the greatest businessman the world has ever seen, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. He has at times succeeded, but almost as often, he has failed spectacularly and at staggering costs.
Donald Trump smooth-talked banks, potential investors, clients, and contractors for years, always managing to sidestep clear of his many crumbling edifices – no matter who else was caught in the collapse. Trump has now ridden that same bluster and braggadocio into the White House. So what happens when a con artist with no experience, a hostile temperament, and a childishly simple understanding of policy matters gets to pick people to run the country? Well, the cabinet operates like Trump “University” did: unqualified people end up in charge, lots of big promises get broken, and it’s bad for everyone who’s not already sitting at the top. Let’s take a look at some cabinet picks by the man who promised to “drain the swamp” and be the president for ALL Americans:
- Chief Strategist Steve Bannon: Machiavellian provocateur who gave the racist alt-right a voice, promoted misleading and false information for years as editor of Breitbart, and idolizes authoritarian power figures such as Darth Vader (not a joke). Trump’s version of Karl Rove.
- Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III: Career politician denied a federal judgeship over accusations of racism. Allegedly said he thought the KKK was “okay, until [he] found out they smoked pot.” Opposes legal marijuana and marriage equality. Could have a side hustle licensing his name to cartoons about Confederate Generals.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: 17-year veteran and partner at Goldman Sachs and owner of OneWest Financial, which was repeatedly investigated for questionable foreclosure practices. Once foreclosed on a senior citizen who accidentally underpaid by 27 cents. Interesting choice for Trump, who as a candidate claimed he would look out for the little guy. Invested in multiple Trump projects. Avatar of big banks’ insensitive practices. Doesn’t get a pass for financing the movie Avatar.
- HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson: African-American neurosurgeon and former Republican candidate with zero housing policy experience. Said he wasn’t qualified to head a Department, then agreed to head a Department. Believes in eliminating social safety net programs that create dependency in poor people; will oversee housing for poor people. Possible that Trump picked him because HUD includes the word “urban.”
- Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: Surprisingly appropriate pick – even broken clocks are right twice a day. Served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labor in prior administrations (both Bushes). Experienced and non-controversial. Married to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. Favorite animal: turtle.*
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt: Close ally of oil & gas industry who does not believe in climate change. Oklahoma attorney general, currently suing the EPA to stop its efforts to reduce power plant emissions. Does not believe the environment needs protecting; will be in charge of protecting the environment. Once ran a business raising hens with Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, which failed when they assigned foxes to guard their investment.**
- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: Faith-based proponent of school voucher programs who has never taught in a classroom or worked as a school administrator. Billionaire. Husband’s father founded multi-level-marketing company Amway, formerly called Quixtar. Brother founded Blackwater Security (yes, the one from the Bush-era Iraq war).
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: 24-year veteran banker at Rothschild. Billionaire specializing in bankruptcies and distressed companies. Has paid out nearly $100 million in settlements and fines since 2014 for misappropriating fees and mishandling investors’ money. Currently being investigated for connections to the Sago Mine disaster, which killed a dozen miners in West Virginia. Instrumental in the rescue of failing casinos and businesses owned by… Donald J. Trump.
There you have it – the Trump cabinet so far. Billionaire bankers with villainous pasts. Long-time Wall Street and Washington insiders. Inexperienced activists. Climate change deniers. Big-business shills. Unqualified Trump cronies. Some of the cabinet picks above are ideologically opposed to the very missions of the Departments they will be leading. Expect to watch people – including Trump voters – lose services they rely on, like Medicare and health insurance. Expect to see public education slip farther into failure, while religious private schools benefit from a windfall of taxpayer dollars. Expect industrial pollution and climate change to accelerate unchecked. Expect the same huge banks that tanked the economy and ruined people’s lives in 2008 to run rampant again, unregulated, stuffing their executives’ pockets, heedless of potentially devastating consequences to the American people.
Why should we expect these things to happen? Because a minority of voters handed the reins of power to Donald Trump, in the misguided hope that he would bring his business skills to the White House… and it appears he has done exactly that. Careful what you wish for, folks, and next time do your homework before you pull the lever.
* Speculation for humorous effect. Elaine Chao may not like turtles.
** Hen story not true. Everything else unfortunately is.