Trump’s time as President-Elect: more confusion than clarity
Since Nov. 8, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has been busy preparing for the inauguration and move into the White House at the end of this week. The President-elect himself has been busy taking meetings with foreign dignitaries and businessmen, proposing new deals to fulfill his promise of bringing jobs back to American citizens.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump has already negotiated a deal with Amazon to create 100,000 new full-time jobs on US soil, despite negative comments he made about the company during his campaign run. Verbal agreements with other companies out of Asia have also been made to move more jobs into the US.
In some aspects Trump has toned down his persona since his election, but that has not stopped him from causing controversy with everything from appointees to his continuous Tweets. “He still maintained his unpredictability as far as things he has said – yet he has done some things that have been very presidential,” said Dr. David Van Heemst, professor of political science, “He has made some mainstream nominations for the Cabinet. So he is blending unpredictability with conventionality.”
Trump hasn’t been shying away from the money, with an estimated combined cabinet value of $14 billion (for full Cabinet list see below). Chicago’s own Todd Ricketts, worth $5.3 billion has been tapped for Deputy Commerce Secretary according to CBS.
Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson, CEO of the ExxonMobil Corporation, does not have a background in international diplomacy in the traditional sense, but has strong ties to Russia and has been personally awarded by Putin into the Russian Order of Friendship.
With his new Secretary of State, Trump seems determined to shake up foreign diplomacy. He has made comments regarding Taiwan that have led to worry about US – China relations. “I hope that we recognize Taiwan, because they have existed outside of Chinese control for a very long time, and I believe it to be more important that we acknowledge the island’s independence,” said senior Mattheus Mitchel who is remaining hopeful about the Trump presidency.
Betsy DeVos, Trumps Secretary of Education, pick is a large GOP donor and valued at $5.1 billion by Forbes. DeVos has been very outspoken about her support for school choice and charter schools. She has been criticized for her lack of experience with public schools and her rocky past with teachers unions.
Trump’s positions on higher education policy remain unclear. According to US News, Trump has proposed modifying the income-based repayment plans and enacting risk-sharing measures with colleges and students. These policies would help to hold schools partially accountable if their graduates could not pay back their loans. Like other areas Trump is expected to push for more privatization of higher education loans, with less financial involvement from the federal government.
Dr. Ben Carson, who visited ONU during his own candidacy in Sept. 2015, has been tapped for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Many have questioned his credentials, saying his expertise would be better suited for Secretary of Health or Surgeon General. An advisor of Carson said in an NPR interview that his “life growing up in subsidized housing” qualifies him for the position more than others who may have been under consideration.
Alongside notable businessmen and the wealthy, Trump has also named a high number of Cabinet members who have military experience. “I think we can expect a much larger emphasis on the military as a foreign policy tool under the new administration,” Mitchel said in reference to Gen. James Mattis’s nomination.
These choices are not the traditional administrators who have risen through the ranks in different departments that he was expected to consider. “He’s made decisions based on who he sees as individuals who are accomplished and aggressive and who can shake things up. His choices are consistent with his own perception in campaigning of draining the swamp and getting achievers who will transform the system,” Van Heemst said.
It still remains to be seen what Trump will do about his personal business interests as he moves into the presidency. “No one really knows how much money Trump is worth, but I believe he is most likely taking a pay cut to be president,” said Mitchel. “I don’t think that there is a whole lot to worry about in regards to him personally gaining money. I would hope he would be more concerned about running the country than his business.”
While Trump has stated his intent to hand the businesses over to his children and son-in-law, he has not yet fully divested or established a blind trust of the Trump Empire. “There’s some gray area legally in terms in all of this,” Van Heemst said. “But you would hope that someone who’s president, in probably the most sought after position in the world, would want to set the highest standards with the highest ethics and aspire to the highest ideals.”
Trump’s Cabinet –
Secretary of State – Rex Tillerson, CEO ExxonMobil Corporation
Attorney General – Sen. Jess Sessions
Education Secretary – Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Health – Rep. Tom Price
Secretary of Transportation – Elaine Chao
Secretary of Treasury – Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of Commerce – Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Defense – Gen. James Mattis
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Department of Homeland Security – Gen. John Kelly
Secretary of the Interior – Rep. Ryan Zinke
Secretary of Energy – Rick Perry
Secretary of Veterans Affairs – Dr. David Shulkin
Chief of Staff – Reince Priebus (only cabinet position that does not require Senate confirmation)
Ambassador to the UN – Gov. Nikki Haley
Administrator of Small Business Administration – Linda McMahon
Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency – Scott Pruitt
National Security Advisor – Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (non-Cabinet senior position)
CIA Director – Rep. Mike Pompeo (non-Cabinet agency position)
— Erica Browning, Features Editor