Car­son pick to run HUD draws jeers

Trump picks short on vi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

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.

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