Cabi­net se­lec­tions sig­nal pointed shift post Obama

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pro­pelled by pop­ulist en­ergy, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s can­di­dacy broke long-stand­ing con­ven­tions and his in­com­ing Cabi­net em­bod­ies a sharp turn from the out­go­ing Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. Trump, a Repub­li­can who pledged ma­jor changes af­ter eight years of a Demo­cratic White House, has as­sem­bled nom­i­nees for a Cabi­net that in­cludes many busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives who have never served in gov­ern­ment, and mil­i­tary lead­ers are in line to over­see de­fense and home­land se­cu­rity. In one case, Trump has named some­one who once called for dis­man­tling the agency he’d lead.

A change of po­lit­i­cal par­ties at the White House al­most al­ways brings pol­icy ad­just­ments. But Trump’s Cabi­net ex­pects to carry the out­sider flair of his cam­paign, a role re­ver­sal com­pared with more con­ven­tional teams un­der Pres­i­dents Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama that were heavy on for­mer law­mak­ers, gov­er­nors and veter­ans of past ad­min­is­tra­tions. A look at the ex­pected shift in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment:

State depart­ment

Trump’s de­ci­sion to nom­i­nate Exxon Mo­bil CEO Rex Tiller­son as sec­re­tary of state means the depart­ment could be run by a life­long oil ex­ec­u­tive with deep ties to Rus­sia and no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence. Out­go­ing Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, a for­mer se­na­tor who was chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, spent much of his ten­ure seek­ing agree­ments to fight cli­mate change, re­strain Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram and pres­sure for­eign ad­ver­saries through fi­nan­cial penal­ties. But if Tiller­son wins Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, he would have a big say over whether the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion with­draws from the Paris cli­mate treaty and the Iran nu­clear pact, along with the fu­ture of US re­la­tions with Rus­sia.

De­fense depart­ment

James Mat­tis re­tired from the Ma­rine Corps as a four-star gen­eral in 2013 and had been a bat­tle­field com­man­der for most of his ca­reer. Com­pare that with cur­rent De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter, who worked for years at the Pen­tagon and in academia but never served in uni­form. To take the de­fense sec­re­tary job, Mat­tis needs Congress to pass a law al­low­ing him to serve. Cur­rent law re­quires a Pen­tagon chief to have been out of the mil­i­tary for at least seven years to up­hold the com­mit­ment to civil­ian con­trol of the mil­i­tary. The law was last waived for Ge­orge Mar­shall in 1950. Trump has praised Mat­tis’ ef­fec­tive­ness at “thank you” ral­lies around the coun­try and has promised a ma­jor buildup of the coun­try’s de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Trea­sury depart­ment

Obama’s Trea­sury Depart­ment was in cri­sis mode from the mo­ment he took of­fice, deal­ing with mas­sive job losses and the melt­down of the hous­ing mar­ket. Eight years later, Trump has nom­i­nated Steven Mnuchin to lead the depart­ment, turn­ing to a for­mer Gold­man Sachs ex­ec­u­tive who in­vested in a bank that fore­closed on thou­sands of home­own­ers af­ter the hous­ing cri­sis. Democrats are ex­pected to press Mnuchin on his role in IndyMac, which was re­branded OneWest, and the deal that left the Fed­eral De­posit In­surance Cor­po­ra­tion re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing as much as 80 per­cent of the losses on for­mer IndyMac as­sets. Mnuchin has promised “the most sig­nif­i­cant mid­dle-in­come tax cut” since Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan. —AP

BED­MIN­STER, New Jersey: In this Nov 20, 2016 file photo, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump talks to me­dia as he stands with Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser-des­ig­nate, re­tired Ma­rine Gen John Kelly at the Trump Na­tional Golf Club Bed­min­ster club­house. — AP

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