Carson pick to run HUD draws jeers
Trump picks short on vital experience
Forget “Team of Rivals.” President-elect Donald Trump is instead assembling what critics are calling a team of novices — government outsiders or politicians who have little executive experience at the helm of the kinds of massive federal agencies they’ll be running.
Mr. Trump’s pick of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development is the latest to rankle Democrats, who said the doctor’s skill with a scalpel doesn’t translate into managing an 8,300-person department that oversees fair lending, subsidized housing and neighborhood revitalization.
“Carson has previously taken himself out of the running for a Cabinet position due to his lack of political experience. He has no professional experience in either government or housing policy. And his campaign website when he ran for president didn’t even mention HUD,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, ticking off the reasons the doctor isn’t the right prescription for the department.
The same criticism was lodged against Rep. Tom Price, whom Mr. Trump last week said he’ll name to lead the Department of Health and Human Services — the 72,600-person agency that will be in charge of unraveling Obamacare.
“To put in charge of the nation’s health care system and a $1 trillion budget someone who has never overseen anything larger than a congressional committee ought to raise eyebrows when this position has historically been reserved for an individual with significant administrative experience,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.
But political scientists said there’s nothing unusual about presidents picking those with little management experience to head big departments.
“I don’t think he’s that much out of line,” said William Mayer, a political scientist at Northeastern University who’s studied presidential campaigns and transitions, and who said picking lawmakers with slim executive experience but skilled in the ways of Washington is common for presidents looking to stock their Cabinets.
Neither then-Sen. John F. Kerry nor thenSen. Hillary Clinton had managed more than a Senate office or presidential campaign at the time President Obama picked them to be secretary of state. Likewise, his interior, labor and transportation secretaries all came from Congress.
The transportation pick, then-Rep. Ray LaHood, was prodded during his confirmation process on what qualified him to lead a department with more than 50,000 employees, and he said his time in Congress was good enough.