Trump tap­ping Washington, Wall Street vet­er­ans for top jobs

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Steve Peo­ples, Ri­cardo Alon­soZal­divar and Julie Pace

WASHINGTON >> Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump is en­list­ing a trio of nom­i­nees with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street to fill out his Cab­i­net, in­clud­ing for­mer Gold­man Sachs ex­ec­u­tive Steven Mnuchin as sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury De­part­ment.

On Tues­day, Trump also chose Ge­or­gia Rep. Tom Price to over­see the na­tion’s health care sys­tem, pick­ing a fierce “Oba­macare” critic who has cham­pi­oned ef­forts to pri­va­tize Medi­care. And he se­lected an­other vet­eran Repub­li­can, Elaine Chao, a for­mer la­bor sec­re­tary and the wife of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, to lead the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

Mnuchin’s of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment was ex­pected as early as Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion who in­sisted on anonymity in or­der to con­firm the pick ahead of time.

Mnuchin, 53, led Trump’s fi­nance op­er­a­tions dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and be­come close with the pres­i­den­t­elect and his fam­ily. But he has no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, which could prove a hur­dle in nav­i­gat­ing the tricky pol­i­tics of Washington.

If con­firmed by the Se­nate, Mnuchin would play a cen­tral role in shap­ing Trump’s tax poli­cies and in­fra­struc­ture plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with im­ple­ment­ing in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic sanc­tions.

Mnuchin is ex­pected to be joined on Trump’s se­nior eco­nomic team by an­other fi­nancier, Wil­bur Ross. The bil­lion­aire in­vestor is con­sid­ered the “king of bank­ruptcy” for buy­ing bea­t­en­down com­pa­nies with the po­ten­tial to de­liver prof­its.

Trump spent much of Tues­day in his Man­hat­tan sky­scraper, rac­ing through meet­ings with prospec­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion hires as high-pro­file va­can­cies re­main — none big­ger than sec­re­tary of state. He emerged in the evening for a pri­vate din­ner with for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, who is on the short­list for the na­tion’s chief diplo­mat.

Rom­ney spoke briefly to re­porters af­ter the meal, say­ing he has “in­creas­ing hope” that Trump can lead the coun­try to a “bet­ter future.”

A tran­si­tion of­fi­cial said the pres­i­dent-elect and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence will travel to In­di­ana on Thurs­day for an event with Car­rier, the air con­di­tion­ing com­pany. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump re­peat­edly used the news of Car­rier’s plans to move some busi­ness to Mex­ico as crit­i­cism of Demo­cratic trade poli­cies. Car­rier tweeted, “We are pleased to have reached a deal with Pres­i­dent-elect Trump & VP­elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy.”

Price, picked to lead the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices af­ter more than a decade in Congress, helped craft House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to pri­va­tize Medi­care — a po­si­tion Trump op­posed in the cam­paign.

Price’s se­lec­tion raised ques­tions about the in­com­ing pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment to Medi­care, among other pop­u­lar en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams he re­peat­edly vowed to pre­serve be­fore the elec­tion. The Ge­or­gia con­gress­man led GOP ef­forts on Capi­tol Hill to trans­form Medi­care into a voucher-like sys­tem, a change that if en­acted, would likely dra­mat­i­cally re­duce gov­ern­ment spending on the health care pro­gram that serves an es­ti­mated 57 mil­lion peo­ple.

Trump did not ad­dress Price’s po­si­tion on Medi­care in a state­ment re­leased by his tran­si­tion team. The team did not re­spond to sub­se­quent ques­tions about it.

“Chair­man Price, a renowned physi­cian, has earned a rep­u­ta­tion for being a tire­less prob­lem solver and the go-to ex­pert on health care pol­icy, mak­ing him the ideal choice to serve in this ca­pac­ity,” Trump said. “He is ex­cep­tion­ally qual­i­fied to shep­herd our com­mit­ment to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare and bring af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble health care to ev­ery Amer­i­can.”

Trump, in a 2015 in­ter­view pro­moted on his cam­paign web­site, pledged not to cut ex­pen­sive en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams that Repub­li­cans have fought for years to cut to help re­duce the fed­eral deficit.

“I’m not go­ing to cut So­cial Se­cu­rity like ev­ery other Repub­li­can. And I’m not go­ing to cut Medi­care or Med­i­caid. Ev­ery other Repub­li­can’s go­ing to cut,” Trump told the Daily Sig­nal.

He later changed his mind on Med­i­caid, em­brac­ing the GOP con­cept of turn­ing the pro­gram over to the states with a fixed amount of fed­eral “block grant” fund­ing.

Like any Cab­i­net of­fi­cial, Price would carry out the wishes of the pres­i­dent. And a sweep­ing Medi­care ini­tia­tive would have to go through Congress with some Demo­cratic sup­port, which would be un­likely.

Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders charged that Price “has a long his­tory of want­ing to do ex­actly the op­po­site of what Trump cam­paigned on.”

Like Price, Elaine Chao is well-known in Washington. She was the first Asian-Amer­i­can woman to serve in a pres­i­dent’s Cab­i­net, as la­bor sec­re­tary un­der Ge­orge W. Bush.

Her record in that post sug­gests she would bring a light hand to safety en­force­ment as trans­porta­tion sec­re­tary. Un­der Chao at La­bor, the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion didn’t is­sue a sin­gle sig­nif­i­cant new safety reg­u­la­tion for four years. Mine safety in­spec­tors were cut and in­spec­tions re­duced.

Whether it’s in­te­grat­ing drones into the na­tional airspace, de­ploy­ing self-driv­ing cars or “some other new tech­nol­ogy, she’s not go­ing to be es­pe­cially in­clined to sec­ond guess the in­dus­try when they say that this will be safe,” said Thomas McGar­ity, a Univer­sity of Texas law pro­fes­sor and author of “Free­dom to Harm,” a book about the La­bor De­part­ment that in­cludes Chao’s ten­ure.

Mnuchin, Price and Chao would re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

The pres­i­dent-elect sum­moned Rom­ney for din­ner Tues­day night to dis­cuss the sec­re­tary of state job for a sec­ond time. He also met with Ten­nessee Sen. Bob Corker, chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, hav­ing met with for­mer CIA di­rec­tor David Pe­traeus the day be­fore.

Af­ter his meet­ing, Corker told re­porters, “The world needs to know that the sec­re­tary of state is some­one who speaks fully for the pres­i­dent,” a pos­si­ble jab at Rom­ney, who ag­gres­sively op­posed Trump’s can­di­dacy.

Tran­si­tion aides said Trump was likely at least a few days away from a de­ci­sion.

Even as he weighed cru­cial Cab­i­net de­ci­sions, Trump ap­peared dis­tracted by out­side is­sues — or ea­ger to cre­ate dis­trac­tions him­self. He tweeted that “no­body should be al­lowed to burn the Amer­i­can flag.” He warned that those who do should face “per­haps loss of cit­i­zen­ship or year in jail!”

Trump of­fered no con­text for his mes­sage. The Supreme Court has ruled that flag burn­ing is pro­tected by the First Amend­ment, and Repub­li­can House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tues­day he doesn’t sup­port Trump’s ap­proach.

“I sup­port the First Amend­ment,” he said.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Steven Mnuchin, na­tional fi­nance chair­man of Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign, walks to lunch at Trump Tower on Tues­day in New York.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee ap­pears Jan. 5 be­fore the Rules Com­mit­tee on Capi­tol Hill in Washington.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer La­bor Sec­re­tary Elaine Chao ar­rives at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 21 to meet with Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump.

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