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The Trump Cabinet: Swamp Things

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Plutocrat in Chief

Word is that our Chief Plutocrat-elect is considering either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani for the Secretary of State position. As little as I think of Mittens, at least he wears a tuxedo well.

But Rudy? OMG … World War III here we come …

But here’s the thing — apparently some on the Right are throwing actual fits over the thought of giving Mittens the SecState job. Kellyanne Conway said that Trump had received a “deluge” of criticism for even considering Mittens. Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich also are not happy.

Apparently their objections to Mittens boil down to his criticism of Trump before the election. Jobs are supposed to be given only to Trump loyalists, apparently. The problem may be, though, that there aren’t enough of them to fill all the jobs.

So get a load of the crew being nominated to take key cabinet positions: As it says in an article by Ben White and Matthew Nussbaum in Politico, Trump’s cabinet is turning into the “Masters of the Universe” club.

Beyond Trump himself, who claims a net worth of more than $10 billion, the president-elect has tapped businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion, and is said to be considering oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), investor Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), private equity investor Mitt Romney ($250 million at last count), hedge fund magnate Steve Mnuchin (at least $46 million), and super-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars) to round out his administration. And Trump’s likely choice for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, comes from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs.

Even retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who’s up for the job of secretary of housing and urban development, has an estimated fortune of $26 million, while White House adviser Steve Bannon has likely earned millions off his stake in the show “Seinfeld” alone. Andrew Puzder, a possible labor secretary, is no slouch, either — he made more than $4.4 million in 2012 as CEO of the holding company that owns restaurant chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

Put together, Trump’s Cabinet and administration could be worth as much as $35 billion, a staggering agglomeration of wealth unprecedented in American history.

This crew makes the Devos crowd looks plebeian. And if Rudy is worth only tens of millions, what’s he doing with these folks? Mittens is a far better fit.

Many are beginning to point out that Trump’s cabinet doesn’t match his campaign rhetoric.

“My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans, and returning to a government that puts the American people first,” Trump said while laying out his economic vision during a major address Detroit in August. “We will offer a new future, not the same old failed policies of the past. Our party has chosen to make new history by selecting a nominee from outside the rigged and corrupt system.”

But Trump now appears to be surrounding himself at least in part with people who come very much out of that system, particularly Wall Street.

Mnuchin and Bannon both made millions at Goldman Sachs, a bank singled out for criticism in Trump’s campaign ads. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared as a shady and dangerous character in the closing spot of the Trump campaign.

Speaking of Goldman Sachs, a reporter for Fortune wrote on November 11 that Lloyd Blankfein’s “stock and options have risen $63.9 million since Tuesday as the investment bank’s shares surged 10% in under three trading days.” Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, who for a time was being considered for Secretary of the Treasury, did even better — $69.8 million.

Dimon told the Trump transition team he didn’t want the Treasury job, which Fortune considered a mistake

In closing the door to joining the Trump Administration, Dimon is probably giving up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to divest his sizeable stock holdings in JPMorgan Chase and diversify his wealth without paying taxes.

Apparently, since he’d be required to divest his JP Morgan Chase stock to take the Treasury job, he wouldn’t have had to pay taxes on profits.

Bess Levin in Vanity Fair:

Who is Donald Trump going to name as his Treasury Secretary? He desperately wanted J.P. Morgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon for the job, but then, shockingly, after being turned down, reportedly lost all respect for him. The president-elect has since met with a host of candidates who were considered second choices last week, before Dimon became persona non grata, but are now all in the running to help him move on (and do some other important things for the federal government, too).

According to Levin, the short list for Treasury includes Steven Mnuchin, a one-time Goldman Sachs partner who cleaned up during the housing crisis by foreclosing on struggling homeowners; and David McCormick, president of the hedge fund group Bridgwater Associates, a company apparently famous for its off-site meetings that involve humiliation of subordinates.

(Since that article was published, private equity guy Wilbur Ross was offered Secretary of Commerce and Jonathan Gray of Blackstone took himself out of the running.)

Frank Bruni:

It’s not enough for him to interview potential cabinet members: There must be photographs and footage of them coming to grovel for his favor, as if each is a courtier and he the king. Where’s the populism there?

And for all his thunderous talk before Election Day about “draining the swamp” of Washington, the water level looks fine, the mosquitoes seem unworried and the gators remain plentiful and well-fed.

Trump Cabinet Candidates

Trump Cabinet Candidates

There are rumors Trump is considering Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for Secretary of Labor. No, I am not making that up. It was in New York magazine.

This would represent an unmistakable insult and threat to the labor movement, and would also go miles to assuage big business and conservative ideological fears about Trump. Walker is reportedly not very interested in giving up the last two years of his hard-won gubernatorial term to move to Washington. But perhaps Trump’s chief-of-staff designee, Reince Priebus, will convince his old Wisconsin partner that the opportunity for massive, nationwide vengeance against the labor enemies he earned in Madison is too good to pass up.

The more likely candidate, Andrew Puzder, is head of a company that owns chains of fast-food restaurants (e.g., Hardee’s). Let’s just say he’s not a friend of living minimum wage.

Somewhat hilariously, last week at New Republic, Jeet Heer wondered what would happen when Paul Ryan’s anti-populist agenda butted heads with Donald Trump’s “populism.” Somehow, I don’t think there will be any problem at all.

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