By Taylor Allen
It’s been over a month since President-elect, Donald Trump, has been elected. Trump is still making headlines because of his style of rhetoric, but it’s time to focus on his actual cabinet choices. After all, it is the cabinet that provides both information and recommendations to the president in relation to both domestic and foreign policy. Arguably, the cabinet is just as influential as the president himself.
The rundown thus far includes:
Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
Senator Jeff Sessions was one of the first established Republicans to come out in support of Donald Trump back in February of this year. He is an Alabama senator of almost 20 years, and has an extensive record pertaining to law. His credentials include two years of service as the Assistant United States General for the Southern District of Alabama, 12 years of service as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, and two years of service as Alabama Attorney General.
However, Sessions is often criticized for his racially insensitive comments. When Ronald Reagan wanted to appoint Sessions for a federal district judgeship, he was blocked by the senate after being accused of racism. Sessions once made a comment that was sympathetic to the KKK. When this became public, Sessions claimed he had been joking.
Secretary of Housing of Urban Development: Ben Carson
Carson is the prominent neurosurgeon who was a Republican contender for the presidential election. Carson has no experience in government or urban development. Carson accepted this nomination after a Carson spokesperson weeks before said that he did not feel he has the experience to run a federal agency, and did not want to assume a role “that could cripple the presidency”.
Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross
Ross is a billionaire investor with a networth of $2.9 billion. However, most people recognize him as the “king of bankruptcy”. He obtained that title by investing in failing steel and coal firms and selling them for profit.
Secretary of Defense: James Mattis
Mr. James Mattis is also known as “Mad Dog Mattis”. He is a retired and a well-respected Marine general especially in relation to the Iraq war. He dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the Marine Corps. He is known for his blunt and outspoken style of command. Mattis has also been dubbed a “warrior monk” because of his military knowledge and strategy.
His most famous quote is, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” In order for Mattis to accept the nomination, he has to get a congressional waiver because there’s a law that bars generals from serving for seven years active and leaving active duty.
Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos
Devos is a wealthy Republican and philanthropist. She is a huge activist for alternatives to public schools. In essence, she loves charter schools and other publicly funded vouchers.
She got her prominence as being the chairwoman of the American Federation for Children and her support of school-choice. DeVos has never actually worked in a school. Also, DeVos has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups that advocate for conversion therapy for LGBT minors.
Secretary of Labor: Andrew Puzder
He is the chief executive of of CKE Restaurants, which includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He is opposed to raising the minimum wage, and advocates for automated technology in order to keep labor costs down.
Transportation: Elaine Chao
Chao was the deputy secretary of transportation under the George W. Bush. She was the first Asian-American woman to serve in the cabinet.
However, it should be noted that it has been discovered that her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell, knew about the possible Russian intervention during the presidential election race, but told the Obama administration that if the government challenged Russia, it would be seen as partisan politics. Chao was nominated soon after Trump won the election.
Health and Human Services: Tom Price
Price is a six-term Georgia congressman and a former orthopedic surgeon. He is known as one of the fiercest opponents of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”. Price’s alternative proposal includes offering tax credits to purchase insurance based on age. Price describes himself as a member of the Tea Party and opposes both abortion and marriage equality.
Homeland Security: John Kelly
Kelly is a retired Marine general that did many U.S. military operations in Central and South America. He also commanded Marines during some of the most intense fighting in the Iraq War. He will be overseeing Trump’s controversial immigration proposals. Like Trump, Kelly has concerns relating to drug trafficking across the U.S.- Mexico border.
Treasury: Steve Mnuchin
Mnuchin has done extensive work on Wall Street and was a Goldman Sachs partner. He left Goldman Sachs to start his own hedge fund and then went on to become a financer of Hollywood movies such as “Avatar”, “American Sniper”, and “Suicide Squad.” Mnuchin served as the Trump campaign’s national finance chair.
Energy: Rick Perry
Perry is the former governor of Texas. He did a brief presidential run in 2012 but his campaign essentially ended after a very public mistake. The televised gaffe shows Perry forgetting one of the three agencies he wanted to eliminate; that agency was the Department of Energy. Therefore, not only does Rick Perry have a history of opposing energy regulation, he forgot about it on television.
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson
Tillerson is the chief executive of Exxon Mobile. This nomination has been considered worrisome due to his friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some are highly critical of the decision since it recently came out since the CIA concluded that Russia helped Trump win the presidency. During the Obama Administration, there was sanctions put in place against Russia. It is expected that Tillerson will advise to lift these sanctions since Tillerson has contracts with Russia worth billions of dollars that can only proceed if those sanctions are lifted.
Positions with Cabinet-Rank Status:
Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley
Haley made headlines as South Carolina’s Republican governor when she publicly supported taking down the Confederate flag at the state’s capitol. This action came after the 2015 Charleston Black Church Shooting. Early on during the presidential race, Haley had been highly critical of Trump and endorsed Marco Rubio instead. She has publically stated that Trump is “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president”. She finally endorsed Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
White House Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus
Priebus is known as an established Republican. He is the head of the Republican National Committee. He is thought to help bridge the gap between Trump’s unconventional actions and more traditional/established Republicans.
Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt
Pruitt is the attorney general of Oklahoma. He is an outspoken climate change skeptic and is an ally of the fossil fuel industry. Before accepting Trump’s nomination, he regularly fought the Environmental Protection Agency.
Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon
McMahon is the co-founder for the professional wrestling company, WWE that now has a market value of 1.9 billion. McMahon was major Trump supporter during his campaign. She gave 6 million dollars to a pro-Trump super PAC. McMahon previously ran twice for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut and failed at both attempts. She supports lower regulation and lower taxes for small businesses.
As of right now, those are the cabinet positions and cabinet-level positions that have been fulfilled so far. It’s clear that the majority of the cabinet is more right wing. There are minimal moderates in the cabinet.
Trump has been highly critical of the Obama administration for years. Based on his cabinet decisions, it is likely that he seeks to undo most of Obama’s policy he has been able to implement within the last eight years.
Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th, 2017. The country has at least four years, possibly eight, to discover what a Trump administration entails.