I have often heard the argument that “we need to run the government more like a business,” and as a matter of fact (a true statement, not an alternative reality statement), I have danced with the same sentiment from time to time.
It looks like we’re going to see that played out in spades.
I think some aspects of business could be incorporated into government, interestingly enough, some of the oversight and accounting that many in business employ to monitor profitability and economy.
But at the same time, many in business use those same principles to obfuscate and hide what they are doing, in order to cheat their customers, associates and the government. That’s also just true.
And despite the SCP’s* promise to “drain the swamp” and his rage against Hillary Clinton’s “ties to Wall Street” and Goldman Sachs, Wall Street and Goldman are now camping at the White House, and it appears he is draining one swamp into another.
Four of the SCP’s* cabinet picks were associated with Goldman Sachs, as were two senior advisors. Steven Mnuchin is picked for Treasury, Wilbur Ross at Commerce, Gary Cohn will be a top economic policy adviser, Jay Clayton at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Anthony Scaramucci as senior White House adviser and Dina Habib Powell as “senior counselor for economic initiatives.”
The SCP’s* closing campaign ad “flashed an ominous image of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein just as Trump condemned the "global power structure" for robbing America's working class and enriching the elite.” CNN Money, Nov. 2016
Scaramucci, who runs SkyBridge Capital, is a vocal defender of big banks — at one point he accused President Obama to his face of “whacking Wall Street like a piñata.” Daily News, Jan 12, 2017
Mnuchin made a fortune off the recession, buying subprime lender IndyMac at pennies on the dollar with other investors, rebranding it OneWest, and selling it for a fortune 5 years later after foreclosing on some 36,000 homes in California. Mnuchin claimed he favored loan modification to foreclosures, but a Wall Street Journal article disagreed: “In a 2011 letter to the FDIC, other regulators and lawmakers, people who said they worked at OneWest claimed it “actually makes more money by foreclosing than they would if they allow loan modification.” The letter said OneWest’s loan-modification staff “routinely shreds loan modification applications” and lies to homeowners when they call OneWest.”
It’s understandable how the SCP would relate to Mnuchin. In a audio book for Trump University, he said, "I sort of hope" there's a real estate crash because "if there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money."
Last December, Mnuchin (estimated worth of some $655 million) and Wilbur Ross (worth $2.9 billion Forbes estimate) said they were “attuned to the plight of the working poor.”
Mr. Ross did say he would divest himself from some 80 holdings that might pose a conflict of interest, unlike his boss, and I find that refreshing.
Health and Human Services’ Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon and critic of the Affordable Care Act, remarked that Americans deserved “access” to high-quality health care. Bernie Sanders, on hearing this, responded, “I have access to buying a $10 million dollar home; I don’t have the money to do that.” Price is a six-term Congressman, and worth an estimated $13.6 million.
The Department of Labor will be run by businessman Andy Puzder, CEO of a CKE Restaurants, a series of fast food chains and vocally against raising the minimum wage for labor.
The new head of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, daughter-in-law to Amway’s billionaire Rich DeVos, has spent her years and a fortune fighting public education She’s a tireless advocate for vouchers and funneling public money to private schools. So much for public education.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry who in 2011, when seeking the Republican nomination for president, proposed scrapping the Department of Energy, is now the head of the Department of Energy. This is the department responsible for protecting and managing the US arsenal of nuclear weapons, among other responsibilities.
Somewhat of a bright spot at the Department of Homeland Security, retired four-star marine General John F. Kelly has called for a more balanced approach to protecting our borders, saying security cannot “be attempted as an endless series of ‘goal-line stands’ on the one-foot line at the official ports of entry or along the thousands of miles of border between this country and Mexico.” He has supported increased aid for economic development, education and a focus on human rights to combat unauthorized immigration and drug trafficking.
General James M. Mattis will be the Secretary of Defense, and unlike his boss, is supportive of NATO, a fan of the Iran nuclear deal and stated point-blank that “torture does not work.” He also favors a tougher stance on Russia.
That might be a refreshing balance to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, president and CEO of Exxon Mobil, awarded the Russian Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin in 2013. It’s not a bad thing to develop friendships with foreign nationals; but Putin is one slippery character with a lot of blood on his hands. Despite what the SCP might say, I agree with John McCain on that one; Putin is a killer.
That doesn’t seem to bother the SCP. On the Bill O’Reilly program, the SCP said Russia could help the US defeat ISIS; O’Reilly said, “But Putin’s a killer.” “You got a lot of killers,” Trump shot back. “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”
So maybe, at heart, the SCP doesn’t really think that much of America.
The new Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, agrees with Gen. Mattis on torture, saying the law “absolutely” prohibits water boarding. He’s somewhat of an antithesis to the SCP, married for 50 years to his high school sweetheart, and an Eagle Scout. On the other hand, he has questioned whether the Constitution guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States, as the 14th Amendment states, has insisted that the First Amendment doctrine of separation of church and state has been too broadly interpreted and said same-sex marriage is an indisputable threat to American culture.
At the Environmental Protection Agency, we have Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Of Pruitt, the New York Times editorial board wrote, “Had Donald Trump spent an entire year scouring the country for someone to weaken clean air and clean water laws and repudiate America’s leadership role in the global battle against climate change, he could not have found a more suitable candidate than Scott Pruitt…”
“Since becoming Oklahoma’s top legal officer in 2011, Mr. Pruitt has been a bitter opponent of the E.P.A., joining in one lawsuit after another to kill off federal environmental regulations. He has challenged standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that cross state lines. He has fought protections against mercury, arsenic and other toxic pollutants from power plants.”
He now heads the EPA.
At the Small Business Administration we have the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon. A millionaire married to a billionaire, she donated $7 million to pro-Trump super PACs this fall, and seems to have been well rewarded.
The list goes on and on, but I cannot.
I’ll end with Bill Stepien, the political director at the White House.
As an insight into how the SCP might conduct his politics by draining the swamp, his political director was fired (thrown under the bus) by Gov. of New Jersey Chris Christie for his part in “Bridgegate,” where Stepien did what was probably Christie’s bidding to get even with a political opponent by closing some lanes on the busiest bridge in the world, the double-decker George Washington toll bridge from New Jersey into New York. At rush hour. Specifically, lanes from Fort lee, where the mayor had not supported Christie in his reelection campaign. Traffic was snarled for a week.
“He was born to be a political director,” one person who worked with (Stepien) said. “He is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the boss.” Politico
So much for draining the swamp.
*SCP- So Called President…I have to thank the President for this acronym, as I have been having a hard time coming up with something appropriate that I can live with. And he gave it to me, when he referred to Judge James L. Robart as “So called judge” in a tweet! Perfect! Sometimes a person receives gifts from unexpected quarters, and you just have to be grateful and accept them in the spirit in which they are given. Rg