President-Elect Trump, who apparently thinks that he has already taken office, despite challenges in several very close, very suspicious states, continues to pick a cabinet. Depending upon your point of view, it is either a big hit, as in a popular move, or a big hit, as in a blow to the solar plexus.
But before we discuss the cabinet picks, one little item, just to set the tone. This week, the head of the House committee on Social Security & other matters, Sam Johnson from (where else) Texas, sent in a bill to cut Social Security. There are a lot of details, but the words you want to remember are “CUT SOCIAL SECURITY.” That is the net effect of what will happen. This is from a Republican Congress bought-and-sold by billionaires. And are the billionaires, who have so much money they don’t know how much they have, going to pay the same in taxes? No. They are going to pay less as are giant corporations, whose greater profits go…just trust me on this…not to the average pension-fund shareholder, but to the CEOs, the Board of Directors and the largest shareholders, 90% of which, statistically…more, but 90% will cover it for now…to the top 1% of wealthiest individuals in the country.
So, this cabinet of billionaires and generals, are being put in place to reduce taxes on the rich while cutting back on insurance payments that you paid into for 45 years. They will then cut Social Security for this highly-publicized but untrue reason. The country is going broke. Well, when you repeat what Bush, Jr. did, cut taxes twice but continue spending—which is exactly what Trump and the Republican Congress is proposing—then you get massive new deficits and unmanageable debt. That is what is coming. And so Sam Johnson (no relation to LBJ) can shill for his oilfield billionaire pals, who could care less about you, and say that we MUST cut Social Security because it costs too much, hoping that no one like Populist Daily will come along and tell you that you paid for this and they are literally stealing it to give tax cuts to the rich!
One final thing. So much has been paid into the Social Security fund over the years that there is still a huge surplus. If we simply made rich people stop taking tax cuts and corporations pay their taxes, we would not need to cut Social Security. Or deal with Medicare, which we also pay for. But if you are young, the problem is worse. They want to make people under 49 pay more and raise the age of retirement to 69. Billionaires like Trump and members of his cabinet think that is just great. Unlike the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Vanderbilts, who, when war time arose, paid 97% taxes on anything over what would today be about $200,000, forcing them to live on what they had already made, these people, like Trump, are often draft dodgers and then want you to cut their taxes from current levels, at which we know Mitt Romney at least (and he’s not even a rich man by their standards) paid less than a dollar and a half for every ten he made. Trump we don’t know because while he wants you to file taxes, we don’t even know if he pays taxes at all!
In other words, you, Mr and Mrs America, voted in your own reduction in retirement benefits in order to make Trump and his neighbors richer….and that is before reductions in Medicare. Are they coming? Absolutely. When you turn the Medicare program over to the insurers, who make 30% average profit or simply refuse to insure you…as many did with Obamacare…then you should have at least enough brain cells to understand that you’re screwed now. And Price’s plan, the Republican Plan, will take your Medicare, sometime in 2018, and give you a check to take to an insurance company and beg them to give you a policy. I won’t make it lighter than that because, for many it will be a disaster. The sicker you are, the more you are going to be screwed.
Anyway, here is the list of undesirables that Trump, in most cases, is putting in place to ruin the lives of the average American.
Let’s start with the Secretary of HUD, who will be Dr. Ben Carson. Not HHS, not Surgeon General. He’s a loony tune but he’s apparently a great neuro-surgeon. So although he grew up in a very poor neighborhood in Detroit and went on to Yale and The University of Michigan for his medical diploma, he knows nothing about housing. He is a skilled and much admired surgeon but how this will work for a largely bureaucratic system designed primarily to see that good housing is extended to everyone who can afford it and to see that as many can afford it as possible? Carson seems to think that every black person in the hood should be able to get a medical degree. He may be intelligent but he’s also very controversial. Let’s hope that he completely changes character and tries to help the poor and middle class find housing before Trump finds out and cahiers him. All very unlikely. More likely is that nothing, especially nothing good for Americans, will happen under Carson.
One possible appointment selection who may be only a medium-dim light retired Marine Corps General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Even though it is rare for an exception to be made to the rule that the Secretary of Defense must be a civilian, Mattis is popular with some Democrats and with Republicans in government and is highly regarded by senior staff in the military. He is supposedly something of a serious thinker about global strategy and security. By all counts, “Mad Dog” Mattis is apparently well liked and respected by other military chiefs. The one negative against him is that he was selected by Trump, and accepted the job working for Trump, so we now have a good idea of what may be his true character.
For head of the EPA, the choice was quite clear and a good one if you are a coal producer or an oil and gas driller or fracker. Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma Attorney General, has joined with Trump as an ally to virtually gut all environmental laws that would inhibit the exploitation of natural resources in the dirtiest and unhealthiest ways. He was also against health care reform, which means he not only wants to dirty up your child’s lungs but then give you no sure way of saving his or her life. Pruitt’s list of unindicted crimes against air and water are simply too long to list, but suffice to say that he was head of the Republican Attorney Generals’ Association, the organizer and key member of an organization of state Attorney Generals against climate change remediation and an organizer and participant in almost every anti-EPA coal and oil industry group that would pay him directly or through campaign contributions.
Trump seems to have nominated General John Kelly to head Homeland Security. Kelly has a lot of former colleagues on the Democratic side who think he is ok. He’s something of a hard-ass but then he’s a general, so what do you expect? Kelly has the tentative support of Sen. Clair McCaskill of Missouri and others who will take a wait-and-see attitude until the confirmation hearings.
Trump chose Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, as head of the Small Business Administration, which one would assume gives small businesses a great deal of confidence in the future of the economy. Actually, Linda McMahon and Vince McMahon have probably earned their billion legitimately by providing some kind of entertainment that they created for a specific audience, an audience which they maximized with flair and imagination. So, while Linda McMahon may have different views from Richard Blumenthal who trounced her for the Senate in Connecticut, she may have some good marketing ideas for small businessmen. She and her husband seem to have built a huge business out of what was a relatively small regional industry. She would probably be the last person whom a normal human would pick for SBA Director, but she probably won’t do any more harm than any other person Trump would pick.
Trump picked Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury. Mnuchin is an interesting choice, but he is like others in the Cabinet, ultra-wealthy, Right Wing, born-on-third base baby, son of a partner at Goldman, Sachs. After Yale, Mnuchin went into the investment business at Goldman, stayed there for many years, then became a hedge fund manager, working with George Soros, then with Soros and others, bought a bank, built it up and sold it. He’s been married twice and is engaged to an actress. He probably has more money personally than any collection of citizens in a small suburban community, including the fire and police departments. He was involved in developing several big hit films and will need to move from Bel Air, Beverly Hills or Malibu to Washington DC. Maybe he can commute on the weekends. Will it work? Will he go from raising money for Trump’s campaign to dealing with the top money men in the world? As WWE’s drama promoter, Linda McMahon, might say, “Stay tuned.” There could be one hell of a calamity.
Can’t over look 79-year-old, multi-billionaire Wilbur Ross, apparently the current heir to the throne of Chainsaw Al Dunlap, who also bought companies and sliced them up or Bain under a more genteel-seeming Mitt Romney who simply bought up declining companies and then moved the jobs to China, taking a big piece of the action for himself. Wilbur Ross may not live throughout the term or perhaps not even throughout the Senate approval hearings but at least he does have some business experience and knows how to make money from a declining situation, which certainly describes the current condition of the economy under the Republican Congress.
We’re not through yet, folks. So come back again soon. This is the most diverse group of candidates in politics, a place with as grimy a bunch of characters as you will find anywhere, since the side show at Barnum and Bailey closed down.