By Kyeland Jackson —
The United States’ honeymoon phase is over.
President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks awaiting Senate confirmation can be overshadowed by controversial executive orders. It’s easy to pick a side for Trump’s policies. But when it comes to his picks, should we swipe left or right?
If picked for treasury secretary, Mnuchin would borrow in financial markets for the government, assist tax code re-writes and lift or impose federal financial sanctions.
A secretive hedge fund manager, Mnuchin is under fire for off-shore accounts, $100 million in undisclosed assets and foreclosure practices in his business days. Those foreclosures used methods like reverse morgtage, supplying cash to the old who finished paying house mortages but were almost broke. Mnuchin’s financial career is a good reason to pick him, bringing expertise on the nuances of banking, investments and hedge fund management. But he reeks of scandal-to-be. Mnuchin’s handled some of Trump’s investments, gambled millions on failed banks and movie ventures and favored privatizing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac mortage fianance firms. While expertise brings a lot to the table, Mnuchin’s risky ventures, financial stakes and somewhat ruthless business practices make him a dangerous choice for America.
Hesitant swipe left
As the nation’s highest appointed law enforcer, Sessions would enforce law, pursue litigation and question the legality of Trump’s orders. Sessions’ conservative values forecast danger for marginalized groups. His hard stance on drugs is attractive, but tough crime laws, such as those enacted by Bill Clinton and Baltimore Governor Martin O’Malley, led to violations on blacks and others inadvertently targeted. He’s expressed broad views on issues such as waterboarding, supported legislation de-funding gay rights groups and doesn’t like for separation of church and state. Sessions is most passionate about immigrants, who he claims siphon billions from Americans via welfare and jobs. His qualities make him ideal if you’re not black, hispanic, gay, a drug user or incarcerated.
Quick swipe left
Conservative. Agriculture vet and onetime veterinarian. Rain prayers for everyone.
Zinke would manage America’s land, currently under the influence of Obama’s green, energy-conservative initiatives. Zinke is either level-headed or reclusive. The possible interior secretary has served in Montana’s Senate and favored the federal government retaining land. He’s also opposed Trump’s stance on climate change being a “hoax,” recently saying it is scientifically proven and affected by humans.
Zinke has conflicting votes on land conservation, opposing many environmental groups’ laws and favoring the Keystone pipeline as a tool to soften federal conservation efforts. He also traveled on the Navy SEAL’s payroll during his service, incurring restrictions on his advancement. His policies conflict and his abuse of travel expenses is questionable, but Zinke brings could bring measured thought in conservation policies. Whether his advocacy for the Keystone pipeline promises positive development for the U.S. is unknown, but with current predictions unsubstantial, he’s worth a shot.
Former Georgia governor Perdue brings experience within the agriculture industry. He once ran a grain and agriculture business and has a history of farming policy. If picked, Perdue would oversee the farming industry, food quality and issuing food stamps. Environmentalists have criticized Perdue, who’s said to have partially funded chemical companies and big agriculture businesses. He also led a group prayer after a long Georgia drought threatened crops.
Whether Perdue will blossom in the position may depend on Trump’s policies. Large agricultural trade with Mexico could be endangered by possible tariffs and dissolving relations between the nations. Perdue’s expertise running a business in agriculture bodes well, and his conservative values may promote small farmers. As long as there are no mass prayers for rain, he’s a hesitant pick.
Hesitant swipe right
Ross would promote business and industries. Probably the richest among Trump’s picks, Ross has controlled multiple companies and is valued at $2.5 billion. He started his career with a war against Chinese steel, but likes Chinese art and sculpture.
Ross has conflicting positions on trade, encouraging the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership before denouncing it when he was picked. He’s also vowed to disassemble the North American Free Trade Agreement, implemented by Clinton to promote trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It’s obvious political posturing, but Ross’ intents seem genuine. The billionaire has signed to disavow himself from many of his companies and vowed to forward regular earnings from one of his companies to charity. It’s hard to tell what Ross will do once in office. Political posturing or not, the businessman has enormous success in the industry and could recognize the political landscape’s effect on trade. Fingers crossed, but he may bring positive change to American trade.
Political posturing or not, the businessman has enormous success in the industry and could recognize the political landscape’s effect on trade. Fingers crossed, but he may bring positive change to American trade.
CKE Restaurants Chief Executive Puzder has a history with labor, bringing executive experience. If picked, Puzder would monitor minimum wage violations, overtime and worker safety laws. He’s been a vocal enemy to Obama-era policies, voting against minimum wage hikes, paid sick leave and overtime eligibility.
The Hardees and Carl’s Jr. executive also voiced support for the businesses’ commercials, often showing scantily-clad women. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder said in a 2015 interview.
Puzder’s efforts to curb minimum wage are most problematic. Arguments to keep wage low are sound – it’d defend small businesses and possibly diminish job losses. But with economic changes coming, possibly including lower taxes for the upper and middle classes, trade tariffs and housing developments, the divide between the wealthy and lower class would widen. Money available to low-income workers welcomes further spending and bolsters development for class transition.
Health and Human Services Secretary
A Georgian orthopedic surgeon, Price brings professional experience to defend the nation’s health.
Price previously said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, encouraging a system awarding tax credits based on age. His legislative record is solid but often favored his political advancement.
He’s also voted counter to most medical practices, voting for legislation on armor-piercing bullets and against regulating tobacco as a drug. Though Price has experience in the medical and legislative fields, his investment in medical stocks and votes against typical medical practices paint a different picture. Price may benefit from the position, but likely at the cost of the American people.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Carson would be in charge of affordable housing development, mortgage insurance and fair-housing law in the U.S. Though his background in public housing involved reliance on federal oversight, Carson has said he’ll advocate guidelines promoting independence from federal tampering. It’s not the worse idea, but it’s not good either. Carson’s suggestions could strand thousands of low-income citizens dependent on federal affordable housing. Without a safety net to compensate those losing funding, and no relevant experience informing his decisions, Carson seems extremely inept at the position.
Quickly swipe left
Perry would supervise the nation’s nuclear weapons, maintaining America’s weapons and stagnating national nuclear efforts. Perry would have a huge role in national defense, seated at major nuclear talks and deals like the controversial Iran Nuclear Deal negotiated by Obama. While Perry doesn’t have nuclear or weapon maintenance expertise, his strong-arm Texas style may be in Trump’s favor, who said he was open to the idea of a nuclear arms race.
This is a hard one but comes down to experience. The high experience expectations of this position are simply too great, and would be better served by someone who’s expertise is in the department’s management. There’s a chance he could excel, but considering the position is too big to allow gratuitous inexperience.
Hesitant swipe left
As education secretary, DeVos would inform Trump on federal education policies and programs and activities. DeVos has fervently advocated charter schools. Charter schools utilize public funding for privatized school systems, allowing, as DeVos says, parent choice for where to send their kids. I agree with parent’s ability to choose, but DeVos needs a concrete system to address funding that would be vacuumed from public schools if charter schools proliferate. Voucher systems have reportedly had little to no affect on bridging low-income students, and the measure would essentially segregate classes and educational resources based on wealth.
DeVos has also sided with Trump on gun-free zones in schools, advocating the zones be removed from schools. For example of gun’s necessity, Devos cited a school allowing guns to defend against grizzly bears. Senators questioned her experience too, as DeVos never managed a school system or attended a public school. Her children never attended public school either.
DeVos is a terrible choice. She’s inexperienced, promoting ideas without substantive gain for all involved and unprepared to address concerns involving education.
Quickly swipe left
Secretary of Veteran Affairs
Shulkin would oversee veterans’ health, including programs, health care services and benefits. Shulkin is a relative insider to politics, appointed by Obama in 2015 to shorten veterans’ wait times. Shulkin reportedly doubled veterans’ coverage via privatized health care while combating broad health privatization.
Veterans have praised Shulkin, commending his experience in managing a sprawling health system.
Though Trump previously criticized Shulkin and other veteran affairs workers, Shulkin’s proven success gives him a positive track record in veteran health. His experience comes alongside a balanced approach, experimenting with federal and privatized health in tandem to best provide for veterans. Shulkin is a great pick, and a good addition to Trump’s cabinet.
Quickly swipe right
Overall – Trump’s unconfirmed cabinet
About Trump’s unconfirmed cabinet: Largely conservative outsiders. Questionable policies. Needs improvement, but has potential.
A lot of Trump’s cabinet picks are inexperienced, bringing financial and personal stakes to their positions. While many took measures to divest themselves of conflicting interests, suggested policies are still half-baked and possibly damaging. The cabinet has a lot of potential, with some policies meshing well with those of others. While said policies could bolster America’s financial position, they do more to divide between the wealthy and low-income populations. If the nominees bring more measured policy suggestions and ideas to the table, there would be more to determine. But so far, the lack of experience is too broad.
Graphics by Mitch Howes / The Louisville Cardinal
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal