Cabi­net to set a new ta­ble

Busi­ness­men and re­tired gen­er­als sig­nal some sharp pol­icy shifts ahead

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ken Thomas

washington» 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 had 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 U.S. 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 most of that time. 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 be 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 mas­sive 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.

En­ergy Depart­ment

For­mer Texas Gov. Rick Perry once fa­mously strug­gled to name three fed­eral de­part­ments he would elim­i­nate if elected pres­i­dent, mut­ter­ing “oops” dur­ing a 2011 pres­i­den­tial de­bate. In one of ironies of the Trump tran­si­tion, Perry is now pre­par­ing to run one of those agen­cies, the En­ergy Depart­ment, af­ter more than 14 years as gover­nor. Perry presided over his state’s vast oil and gas in­dus­tries and lead­ing wind en­ergy sec­tor. He is cur­rently on the boards of two pe­tro­leum com­pa­nies seek­ing ap­proval for the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line project. He would be a break from pre­de­ces­sors such as Steven Chu, a No­bel Prize-win­ning physi­cist, and Ernest Moniz, a nu­clear physi­cist from the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

Jus­tice Depart­ment

Alabama Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, Trump’s pick for at­tor­ney gen­eral, has sup­ported tough im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment poli­cies and said the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s civil rights divi­sion should not be used as “a sword to as­sert in­ap­pro­pri­ate claims that have the ef­fect of pro­mot­ing po­lit­i­cal agen­das.” Be­fore he en­tered the Se­nate, his nom­i­na­tion to be­come a fed­eral judge was scut­tled in 1986 amid ac­cu­sa­tions that he made racially charged re­marks as a U.S. at­tor­ney. He would suc­ceed At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch, who has dealt with a spate of po­li­cein­volved shoot­ings and pushed a law­suit against North Carolina over a bath­room bill that of­fi­cials said dis­crim­i­nated against trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als.

La­bor Depart­ment

Out­go­ing La­bor Sec­re­tary Tom Perez was an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for rais­ing the fed­eral min­i­mum wage and helped push a fed­eral rule to make more work­ers el­i­gi­ble for over­time pay. Trump’s choice to run the depart­ment is fast-food ex­ec­u­tive Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restau­rants Hold­ings, the par­ent com­pany of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and other chains. Puzder has said that large in­creases in the min­i­mum wage would lead to job losses, and he wrote in a May 2016 op-ed that the over­time rule would be “another bar­rier to the mid­dle class rather than a spring­board” for work­ers. Fast-food work­ers led the “Fight for $15” cam­paign dur­ing Obama’s sec­ond term.

Other de­part­ments

Trump’s choice for ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, Betsy DeVos, is an ed­u­ca­tion ac­tivist and bil­lion­aire from Michi­gan who has cham­pi­oned vouch­ers and char­ter schools, which de­trac­tors say hurt pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. The pick at the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices is Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon who has been a lead­ing critic of Obama’s health care over­haul. Set to head the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment is one of Trump’s pres­i­den­tial ri­vals, re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Car­son, even though he lacks a back­ground in hous­ing is­sues. Trump pointed to Car­son’s “bril­liant mind” and pas­sion for “strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies.” At the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Trump set­tled on Oklahoma’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, Scott Pruitt. He has ques­tioned the sci­ence of global warm­ing and sued the EPA over plans to limit car­bon emis­sions from coal-fired power plants and reg­u­la­tions in­volv­ing the Clean Water Act.

Eric Pier­mont, AFP/Getty Im­ages

Exxon Mo­bil Chair­man and CEO Rex Tiller­son has been tapped by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump as his sec­re­tary of state. Tiller­son has deep ties to Rus­sia.

As­so­ci­ated Press file

Trea­sury sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate Steven Mnuchin is a for­mer Gold­man Sachs ex­ec­u­tive.

Alex Wong, Getty Im­ages

Re­tired Marine Gen. James Mat­tis is the de­fense sec­re­tary nom­i­nee.

As­so­ci­ated Press file

Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, R-Ala., is the at­tor­ney gen­eral-des­ig­nate.

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